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15 Great Contemporary Roles For Altos

With the contemporary musical theatre scene dominated by mezzo belters and rock tenors, it seems almost impossible to find a lead alto role. A voice part that once reigned supreme on Broadway through roles such as Mama Rose, Mrs. Lovett and Dolly Levi, it’s now reserved mostly for older, secondary characters. However, not all hope is lost for you low, brassy belters! Here are 15 contemporary roles that stand out among the rest:

1. Ilse Neumann from ‘Spring Awakening’

Ilse has run away from her abusive parents to live in an artists’ community. Although she is not as close to the other characters as Wendla and Melchior, her song “The Dark I Know Well” with Martha is a heartrending depiction of sexual abuse.

2. Carmen Bernstein from ‘Curtains’

A more comedic alto role, Carmen is a boisterous, brassy theatre producer who is unhappily married to the luckless producer Sidney. Her solo, “It’s a Business” is sung to her estranged daughter, Bambi.

3. Morticia Addams from ‘The Addams Family’

Morticia is the Addams family matriarch. She always tries to see the good in everyone and is in control emotionally compared to the rest of the family.

4. Muzzy Van Hossmere from ‘Thoroughly Modern Millie’

Muzzy is a vocal diva who enjoys the best in life and believes in valuing true love over money.

5. Miss Minchin from ‘A Little Princess’

Miss Minchin is the bitter headmistress of a girls’ school in London. She can’t stand Sara Crewe, a new, popular student, and is jealous of Sara’s high reputation.

6. Mother Superior from ‘Sister Act’

The dignified, conservative leader of a convent in Philadelphia, Mother Superior is sarcastic yet extremely protective of her loved ones.

7. Motormouth Maybelle from ‘Hairspray’

A sassy record store owner, Motormouth pushes for “The Corny Collins Show” to become racially integrated.

8. Madame Giry from ‘Love Never Dies’

The mother of Meg, a headlining performer at Phantasma, Madame Giry is deeply concerned and furious about the Phantom’s continued obsession with Christine.

9. Zoe Murphy from ‘Dear Evan Hansen’

Coming to terms with the loss of her brother Connor, Zoe befriends Evan after he starts a project to keep Connor’s memory alive.

10. Ursula from ‘The Little Mermaid’

In the stage version of the classic Disney film, the vengeful Ursula wishes to steal the sea throne from her brother, Triton, this time with more solo music.

11. Sonya Rostova from ‘Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812’

Sonya is Natasha’s loyal and protective cousin, and she goes out of her way to attempt to stop her elopement with Anatole.

12. Adult Alison Bechdel from ‘Fun Home’

As an adult, the lesbian author-feminist Alison Bechdel reflects on her life as a child and as a young adult exploring her sexuality while attending Oberlin College.

13. Bea from ‘Something Rotten!’

Based on the female lead from Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing,” Bea strives to help her husband’s acting troupe in any way she can, despite his doubts.

14. Diana Bingley from ‘I Love You Because’

Diana is an intelligent actuary who encourages her friend, Marcy, to find her Mr. Wrong before she can be with Mr. Right.

15. Claire Zachanassian from ‘The Visit’

When Claire, the richest woman in the world, returns to her hometown, the locals hope her wealth can give them a better life.

Think of a recent alto role that we left off? Let us know in the comments below…

Written by Joseph Kisiday

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Joseph Kisiday is a 2016 graduate from Christopher Newport University, majoring in Music Composition. Joseph's love for theatre came at a young age through discovering the musicals of Andrew Lloyd Webber, such as "Cats" and "The Phantom of the Opera." When he is not writing, Joseph can be found watching operas or Miyazaki films.

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  1. There are THREE good alto roles in Great Comet, actually~ Hélène and Marya are ALSO altoes and have some of the greatest songs in the show~

    • Author here: in regards to Sonya, I always thought that was odd. If I remember correctly, Sonya only goes up to a D5 whereas Helene goes up to an F5 in Charming, and Marya sings an E5.

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