Nameberry Picks: Best Broadway Musical Names
by Linda Rosenkrantz
Since that time, of course, there have been countless more shows with zillions of names of characters belting it out on the Great White Way, ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous. There are so many of the former that it’s been hard to narrow it down to a dozen or so Nameberry Faves, but here are our final picks:
Adelaide—In Guys & Dolls, Adelaide is an endearing Hot Boxclub dancer with a perpetual psychosomatic cold due to the frustrations of a 14-year engagement. Not surprisingly, Aussie Rachel Griffiths chose this rapidly climbing Australian place name for her daughter; Katherine Heigl spelled it Adalaide.
Alonzo—Alonzo is just one of the human-baby-worthy feline names in Cats, based on T.S. Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats. Others include Cassandra, Demeter, Electra, Jemima, Plato and Gus (aka Asparagus). That zippy ‘z’ hasn’t done much for Alonzo, but we think it’s one of the best Al-names.
Amalia—The musical She Loves Me, which shares a plot with the films In the Good Old Summertime and You’ve Got Mail, is set in Hungary, and thus the characters have native names. Amalia is a pretty European variation on Amelia, though it might lead to some confusion.
Amaryllis—In The Music Man, Amaryllis is a relatively minor young girl character. The 1957 musical hit also featured a Eulalie and a Marcellus. Amaryllis is a showy and colorful flower name that’s never been in the Top1000, but definitely has some exotic appeal.
Ambrose—Hello, Dolly highlights three great boys’ names: Ambrose, Barnaby, and Cornelius were all featured as eager young men. All three are outstanding candidates for revival—Barnaby has never been on the list and Ambrose hasn’t rated since 1954.
Charity— Charity Hope Valentine is a taxi dancer at the Fandango Ballroom in the 1966 Broadway musical Sweet Charity, adapted from a Fellini screenplay and later made into a film starring Shirley Maclaine. Though the Virtue name Charity peaked at Number 183 back in 1975, it now sounds a lot fresher than Hope, Faith and Grace.
Conrad—Conrad Birdie is the Elvisish rock star center of the bouncy 1960 musical Bye, Bye, Birdie (“We love you Conrad, oh yes we do!”). The cast also featured characters called Hugo and, yes, Charity. Conrad is often heard as a fictional character name, but for babies—not so much.
Dot— Dot is the artist’s model/mistress in Stephen Sondheim’s Sunday in the Park with George, played by Bernadette Peters. Heard occasionally in the UK as a middle name, Dot has a lot of spunk and sass for just a dot on the babyname map.
Eliza—My Fair Lady’_s spirited Eliza Doolittle is the classic musical character based on the Shaw play _Pygmalion, who is transformed from cockney flower girl to elegant lady, played on stage by Julie Andrews and on screen by Audrey Hepburn. Eliza is the streamlined version of Elizabeth, deservedly beloved by Berries.
Ivy—In the Leonard Bernstein/Comden & Green musical On the Town, Ivy Smith is “Miss Turnstiles” (aka “Miss Subways”), who is at the center of the World War II-era plot. The short but strong botanical Ivy is exhibiting a rapid rise, influenced, undoubtedly, by the name of Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s daughter Blue Ivy.
Magnolia—In the 1927 landmark Jerome Kern musical Show Boat, Magnolia is a leading character, beautiful but naïve. Magnolia is part of the expansion of the field of flower names parents are now considering, along with other exotic blooms like Azalea and Zinnia. No Doubt drummer Adrian Young chose it for his daughter.
Sweeney—In the case of Sweeney Todd, it’s perhaps better not to think of the Sondheim musical and Tim Burton movie character—“the Demon Barber of Fleet Street” –and concentrate instead on the friendly, energetic feel of the Irish surname.
Tulsa is the tap dancer in Gypsy who runs off and marries Gypsy Rose Lee’s sister June and gets to sing a big featured number. Elvis Presley was a singing soldier named Tulsa in the movie G. I Blues. Dallas and Austin, Cheyenne and Montana have all made it as baby names—why not Tulsa? Could be unisex too.
What’s your favorite of these? What’s your favorite Broadway musical name not on this list?