In an industry currently dominated by stratospheric belters and tenors, it’s easy to overlook some hidden gems for lower male voices. Usually known for playing antagonists, parents or suave, cunning lovers, baritones are not without some terrific roles with beautiful melodies and captivating character development.
In no particular order of greatness, here are 16 underrated contemporary baritone roles, with “contemporary” meaning anything from “Rent” onward:
1. Rocky Balboa from ‘Rocky the Musical’
Andy Karl (“Groundhog Day,” “Legally Blonde,” “9 to 5”) played the iconic boxer in the 2014 Broadway production of the musical.
2. Tommy Korman from ‘Honeymoon in Vegas’
A wealthy gambler, Tommy Korman falls in love with Betsy, who bears a strong resemblance to his late wife.
3. Iván from ‘Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown’
The seductive male lead of the show, Iván is Pepa’s lover but is secretly involved with Paulina.
4. Coalhouse Walker, Jr. from ‘Ragtime’
Famously created by Brian Stokes Mitchell, the character Coalhouse is a musician in Harlem who seeks justice for his lover’s death.
5. Arnaud du Thil from ‘Martin Guerre’
Loosely based on the real-life figure, Arnaud assumes the identity of the title character after Guerre leaves home to fight the Huguenots.
6. Man in the Yellow Suit from ‘Tuck Everlasting’
The main antagonist in the musical, the Man in the Yellow Suit pursues the Tucks to receive immortal life.
7. Count Dracula from ‘Dracula: the Musical’
Based on the famous character by Bram Stoker, Count Dracula is a vampire who uses supernatural abilities to fulfill his dark desires.
8. Death from ‘Death Takes a Holiday’
The lonely spirit of Death becomes a handsome young prince to relate better to human emotion.
9. Jackie from ‘Billy Elliot’
Billy Elliot’s father, Jackie, is not supportive of his son’s newfound passion for dance, and is engaged in riots against police during the 1984–1985 Coal Miners’ Strike.
10. Richard from ‘A New Brain’
Richard is a kind, compassionate doctor who dwells on his past regrets.
11. Gleb from ‘Anastasia’
A new character created for the stage version of the 1997 film, Gleb is a Bolshevik general who falls in love with Anastasia while being demanded to complete a fatal task.
12. Mr. Lethe from ‘Jasper in Deadland’
One of the many villains in the show, Mr. Lethe is a scheming multimillionaire whose water bottles make everyone in purgatory feel better.
13. Edward Bloom from ‘Big Fish’
A dying travelling salesman, Edward Bloom has led a fantastical life that his son Will struggles to understand.
14. Robert Kincaid from ‘The Bridges of Madison County’
A photographer for National Geographic, Robert has an unforgettable encounter and affair with Francesca in Madison County, Iowa.
15. Frank Cioffi from ‘Curtains’
Frank is a Bostonian detective who had secretly wanted to be a musical theatre star his whole life. He develops feelings for Nikki, a naïve ingénue.
16. Jason from ‘Ordinary Days’
Jason tries to advance his relationship with his girlfriend Claire, who resists his advances until she reveals a big secret near the story’s end.