Top Ten Male Broadway Character Geeks

Having trouble getting through your hump day? How about a top ten list!

I love musicals. No, really. I absolutely adore them. As a small child, I have been told that I used to watch the original Annie movie, rewind it, watch it, rewind it, watch it, rewind it, watch it, etc. (The DVD generation is never going to experience that joy, aww). To this day I get giddily happy over the opening chords of “Maybe far away …” I have been performing in musicals since I was about eight and was an on stage orphan in a local, summer camp production of Oliver. In high school, my best role was Aunt Elller in Oklamhoma! where  they gave me a gun, hehe, a gun. However, as a relatively normal looking, possibly even kind of frumpy, female, with a lower voice, I always knew that I had no chance of competing for the leads in most musicals. Fortunately, if you look out there carefully enough, you can find that there is a small but exciting representation of geeks in various musical roles! Who needs to fall in love with the hunk with the awesome tenor voice (unless of course it’s Donny Osmond in Joseph, ah, swoon!) when you can ogle these great well-rounded, male characters instead!

10. Cornelius from Hello, Dolly

Cornelius is clumsy, uncertain, and nearly gets himself in trouble more times that you can count during the show. He tries to flirt with the girls, and ends up panicked and hiding from his boss. He has to learn how to dance, quite an amusing moment, and he talks the woman he is courting into walking to dinner because he can’t afford a taxi (or dinner, but a small mix-up helps him out of that!). He’s really just a small town boy who finds true love in a night on the town. A show-stealing, lovable geek.

“There’s a world outside of Yonkers. Way out there beyond this hick town, Barnaby”

9. The Russian from Chess

He’s Russian and he plays chess, come on! I mean, this is probably one of the epitomes of geeky musicals to begin with since there are songs such as “The History of Chess”, but the Russian is really the key as he is the chess genius who comes out of nowhere to destroy the arrogant American while simultaneously stealing his woman just before defecting. In the second act, he is forced to make a decision between his personal life and his passion: the game. The show overall has a relatively atypical ending, but I won’t give anything away here!

“Once I had dreams, now they’re obsessions. Hopes become needs, lovers possessions”

8. Josh from Big

I heard somewhere that being a geek is essentially like never having to grow up and give up all your favorite toys and games, therefore the kid from the musical Big, based on the movie, who gets big and plays with toys is probably the best version of a geek out there! He looks like an adult, but with the mind of a teenager. Wait … that’s all of us too! It’s absolutely wonderful to watch how excited he gets over toys and how excited he gets over the woman who is interested in him, but also struggling with what it means to be a man and what he lost from being a kid. He does eventually decide that he needs to grow up the long way, but I think we can all learn that keeping that kid portion of ourselves nearby is important even as “mature adults.”

“I want to know how love feels, what kind of lightning strikes you? How does a woman kiss you when she likes you?”

7. Brian from Avenue Q

Brian is probably currently one of the best comedic roles on Broadway. He’s a bit overweight, wears Converse shoes, and always wanted to be a comedian but ended up a caterer. He’s one of the few men in a show full of puppets. He provides both amusement and reality as throughout the show he is laid off, gets married, and has to figure out a new way to support himself and his new wife, while continuing to joke his way through. Just watch out, because Brian is not always wearing his underwear …

“It sucks to broke and unemployed and turning thirty-three, it sucks to be me.”

6. Henry Higgins from My Fair Lady

‘Enry ‘Iggins, as Eliza would say, is a phoneticist. Wow, that’s pretty geeky right there! The majority of the first half of the show is about Professor Higgins teaching Eliza how to speak proper English instead of her lovely Cockney accent. He eventually realizes that he loves her, but, in  a typically geeky fashion, he analyzes that he has grown “Accustomed to her face” instead of admitting his feelings.

“A pensive man am I, of philosophical joys, who likes to meditate, comtemplate, far from humantities and inhuman noise”

5. Will Parker from Oklahoma!

Will Parker is the young, impressionable boy who is overwhelmed by the huge Kansas City and trying to get married to the flighty and flirty Ado Annie. He’s so naïve that he doesn’t even realize that the stereoscope of scantily clad girls is actually a deadly weapon. He spends most of the show trying to raise the $50 to appease Ado Annie’s father to marry her, and when he finally does it, he realizes that she is never going to really “settle down” with him. For an old West territory, this geek boy is quite the catch!

“I’m a one woman man, home lovin’ type, all complete with slippers and pipe. Take me as I am or leave me be!”

4. Henry from Next to Normal

Henry is pretty far from the boy next door when he starts hitting on Natalie while somewhat stoned and trying to convince her to switch from Mozart to improv piano, but who wouldn’t totally fall for this adorable, willing to do anything for the girl, persistent, geeky boy? His hair is always a mess, and he might bring his bong to you house. However, he stands by Natalie’s side even as she tries to push him away, and that’s the kind of geek we like around here!

“I might be lazy, a loner, a bit of a stoner it’s true. But I could be perfect, I’ll make myself perfect for you.”

3. Alfred from Bye Bye Birdie

Alfred spans a variety of geekdoms depending on which version of Bye, Bye Birdie you watch. He’s always a struggling songwriter, who loves it, but can’t seem to sell a song, or actually finish one! In the original musical, he keeps promising to quit songwriting to be an English teacher, but in the movie versions he would like to be a research chemist. Either way, he is a solitary momma’s boy who will do anything to please her, including avoiding marrying his longtime girlfriend Rosie. He gets over his Momma, though, and finally finds his passion in life.

“Lilacs and lilies, any bloom you please, all what they did was make me shrug or sneeze, but now I love each blossom that I see, for a lovely little rose loves me.”

2. Seymour from Little Shop of Horrors

Probably the best representation of Seymour as a geek was everyone’s favorite dorky actor Rick Moranis, but the character itself is hard to ignore. Seymour is essentially obsessed with “strange and interesting” plants, which eventually leads to his acquisition of the man-eating Audry II. This is one of those rare shows where at the end, the geek gets the pretty woman and saves the day, so if you are looking for an uplifting “geek hero” moment, see this one! Audry also gets to put in her two cents as to why her geek is the man for her. Its an all around great example with a little fantasy and horror thrown in for good measure. Maybe Charles Griffith (the screenwriter of the original non-musical movie) was a geek too!

“Poor. All my life I’ve always been poor. I keep asking God what I’m for, and he tells me ‘Gee, I’m not sure. Sweep that floor kid.’ “

1. Mark from RENT

Mark is your classic geek. He’s a filmmaker who spends more time observing and recording than actually living his life. He brings the camera everywhere as if it is another appendage. He can barely maintain friendships much less the one romantic relationship we are aware of, and she ended up being a lesbian. Mark does grow over the course of the show and realizes that his friends really are important, and he needs to interact as a person and not just an observer. However, the show does end with a homemade movie by Mark, reminding us that you can’t kill the geek in the man no matter what happens!

“Why am I the witness, and when I capture it on film, will it mean that it’s the end and I’m alone?”


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Ann
    Oct 13, 2010 @ 23:14:17

    Hi! I found your site via Cake Wreck’s twitter — way to promote Jen — and then this post. I am a normal-looking-lower-voiced person who does a lot of theater (forget leads, third-girl-from-the-left-singing-alto gets you constant work — and the opening trumpet of ANNIE gives me chills!!) and a big lover of geeks. So I find this post to be HIlarious. Mark and Alfred are two of my dream guys — if only Anthony Rapp were straight and/or Dick Van Dyke was my age…


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