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Mark Cohen
Originally played by Anthony Rapp

Roger and Collins's roommate and Maureen's ex-boyfriend. A cynical documentarist living in Alphabet City who rebels against the gentrification taking place around him and fears watching his friends and loved ones dying of AIDS.

  • Adorkable: Says in an awkward tone that he learned to tango at the Scarsdale Jewish Community center with the rabbi's daughter in comparison to Joanne's much more glamorous description of learning from an ambassador's daughter at a boarding school.
  • Alternative Character Interpretation: In-universe, he starts questioning if he's just filming to exploit others for art, or as a means of coping with his friends' inevitable deaths.
    • Out-of-universe, his decision to quit the tabloid can come off as this to viewers. Some see it as being an act that shows how much he's willing to commit to his craft, while others see him as being a bit of a spoiled brat who seem to think he's "selling out" despite having a job most people trying to make a living out of their art would kill for.
  • Amicable Exes: Of a sort with Maureen. While their break up was a bit sloppy, the two show no signs of ill-will towards each other.
  • Anti-Love Song: Mark and Joanne share a duet ("Tango Maureen") about how their mutual ex-girlfriend isn't exactly the best option for either of them.
  • Author Avatar: Negative HIV status, watches his friends die in the HIV/AIDS epidemic, writes a screenplay & films a movie about it.
  • Badass Bystander: Subverted. When he films cops harassing a homeless woman, she tears a new one into him for using her pain to absolve his guilt.
  • Everybody's Dead, Dave: This is what he fears will be his ultimate fate as many of his close friends succumb to AIDS while others like Joanne and Maureen will turn to each other for comfort and to start a new life. Summed up in these lines:
    Roger: You pretend to create and observe when you really detach from feeling alive!
    Mark: Perhaps it's because I'm the one of us to survive!
  • Expy: Of Marcello, the painter, from La Bohème.
  • First-Person Peripheral Narrator: There really is no central character, but he gets the most stage/screentime, and the story is told from his viewpoint.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Roger.
  • Hidden Depths: Mark notes that it's weird how Maureen, his ex, asked him to work with her new girlfriend. Instead of being bitter about it, he's sympathetic to Joanne's mixed feelings about the situation and cheers her up about being put on mic duty by dancing with her. It turns out he's a really good tango dancer and is introspective about how Maureen is alluring but destructive.
  • Hipster: Can definitely come across as one to the newer generation viewing the musical, though a lot of what makes up a hipster lifestyle was new and seen as trendy by the BoHo crowd at the time it's set.
  • How We Got Here: Inverted by Halloween. "How did we get here, how the hell..."
  • Iconic Item: His black and white scarf, and red and blue jumper.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: He and Roger share entitlement issues about what the world owes them. Even so, he does all he can to care for Roger and his friends, such as being their for Roger after April dies.
  • Jewish and Nerdy: Pretty cultured (Insulting Roger by saying he's playing a riff on Musetta's waltz), much more reserved in personality then his friends, and the aforementioned description of learning to tango.
  • Le Film Artistique: Mark's raison d'être.
  • Man Hug: With Roger on several occasions, most notably at the end of "What You Own" (only in the movie, they don't actually see each other in the show).
  • Odd Friendship: With Joanne, his ex-girlfriend's new girlfriend.
  • Shipper on Deck: For Roger and Mimi.
  • Stepford Smiler: While he's always attempting to be Roger's happy, supportive best friend, the song "Halloween" marks him (pun intended) as someone contemplative, mournful, and terrified of the reality of his situation.
    Mark: And when I capture it on film, will it mean that it's the end and I'm alone?
  • Unreliable Narrator: Since he's the closest thing the show has to a narrator, it's sometimes hard to tell if his views aren't being colored by his own emotions, or perhaps nostalgia, if one takes the view he might be looking back on these times as his memories.

Roger Davis
Originally played by Adam Pascal

Mark's and Collins's roommate. Roger is a musician recently diagnosed with HIV after using tainted heroin needles during his time as an addict, and has been attempting to write a song that will leave a legacy for when he dies.

  • Big "NO!": In "Finale A".
  • Character Development: He eventually defrosts, thanks to his friends and Mimi.
  • Cynicism Catalyst: Well… how would you take it if your girlfriend left a note saying "We got AIDS" before committing suicide?
  • Defrosting Ice King: He starts out coldly rebuking any of Mimi's passes at him, but after taking things a bit too far in "Another Day", he personally apologizes to her and tries to make it up to her.
  • Dying Moment of Awesome/Redemption Equals Death: "One Song Glory" reveals that he's hoping for both.
  • Expy: Of Rodolfo, the poet, from La Bohème.
  • Grief Song/"I Want" Song: "One Song Glory" is a combination.
  • Hikkikomori: He rarely leaves the flat due to his addiction recovery and his diagnosis. This changes thanks to his relationship with Mimi and the rest of his friends.
  • Iconic Item: In the stageplay/musical, it's his plaid pants and black nail varnish. In the film, it's his leather jacket.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: He's the most aloof, solitary and pessimistic out of his friends, but he loves them all very dearly. During Angel's funeral, Roger is seen in tears.
  • Living on Borrowed Time: It affects him more than any other character.
  • On the Rebound: Part of the reason he rejects Mimi's advances is that his girlfriend died several months ago, and he still hasn't moved on yet.
  • Reclusive Artist: In-Universe, as he rarely leaves the flat for anything and is busy writing a love song.
  • Recovered Addict: His drug addiction is what caused him to contract HIV in the first place. He has since cleaned up his act, but not without the crushing knowledge that he's Living on Borrowed Time.
  • Signature Song: "One Song Glory".
  • Older and Wiser: Compared to Mimi. As a former musician and junkie, he clearly disapproves of Mimi's drug addiction and tries his best to convince her from making the same mistakes he did. When he learns that she's been feeding her addiction behind his back, their relationship suffers as a result.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: In song form, he tells off Mimi for trying to get him back on drugs. She acknowledges he's right about that and backs off.

Mimi Márquez
Originally played by Daphne Rubin Vega (Rosario Dawson in The Movie)

An exotic dancer living in the same building as Roger and Mark, and Benny's occasional mistress. Mimi is suffering from AIDS and, unlike Roger, is still addicted to heroin, which she struggles to quit.

  • Adult Fear: In the play, her mother leaves a voicemail in Spanish, desperately asking where she is.
  • Ambiguously Brown: Mimi is said to be Latina, but she's also been played by actresses who are biracial, white, etc. — and more than one black actress has played her (which doesn't preclude her being Latina as white and black Latino people exist.)
  • Bad Girl Song: "Out Tonight" is made of this.
  • Dawson Casting: "I'm nineteen, but I'm old for my age!" Though, since many of the other characters are only mid-twenties, the potential exists for them as well.
  • Died in Your Arms Tonight: Only in the Dutch production. For others, see Disney Death.
  • Disney Death: She's saved through The Power of Rock and The Power of Love... alongside a heavy dose of Fridge Logic/slight Mind Screw.
  • Dying Declaration of Love: To Roger. Subverted, in that she comes back (somehow).
  • Expy: Of, well, Mimi, the seamstress, from La Bohème.
  • Fanservice: The only reason why in the film, "Out Tonight" note  is performed while Mimi is at work instead of at her apartment like in the play.
  • The Hedonist: If her song, "Out Tonight" has anything to say about it, Mimi's philosophy is to spend every waking moment enjoying yourself while you can.
  • Hooker with a Heart of Gold: She's an exotic dancer rather than a hooker, but follows this trope all the same.
  • Lady in Red: During "Light My Candle", which is about her trying to seduce Roger for the first time.
  • Manic Pixie Dream Girl: To Roger.
  • Morality Pet: Benny treats her civilly out of all of the "squatters" in the building, even asking why she's hanging out with them. He pays for her rehab, even knowing she can relapse easily and is dying.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Her La Boheme counterpart dies for good at the end of the play.
  • Stalker with a Crush: She did come into Roger's apartment through his window.
  • Too Kinky to Torture: It's a living...

Tom Collins
Originally played by Jesse L. Martin

Mark and Roger's roommate. Collins is a philosophy professor at New York University, a staunch political anarchist, and a gay man living with HIV. He meets and falls in love with Angel, which sets the course of the group coming together.—-

  • Last-Name Basis: It's hard to even find spots in the musical where his first name even gets mentioned.
  • Only Sane Man: After Angel's death, he gets very serious very quickly.
  • Sidekick Song: "Santa Fe".
  • Sincerity Mode: He thanks Benny for paying for Angel's funeral, knowing how much it meant to him.

Angel Dumott-Schunard
Originally played by Wilson Jermaine Heredia

A drag queen musician working as a street entertainer in Alphabet City. Angel is suffering from terminal AIDS, and falls in love with Collins in her time remaining.—-

Maureen Johnson
Originally played by Idina Menzel

Joanne's girlfriend, Mark's ex, and the former roommate of the latter, Benny, Collins, and Roger. Maureen is an eccentric performance artist who spearheads the charge against gentrification in her neighborhood with the help of her friends and neighbors.

  • Amicable Exes: Even though she and Mark aren't together anymore, they seem to get along just fine.
  • Anything That Moves: She flirts with anyone of any gender, even when she's with her boyfriend/girlfriend.
  • Attention Whore: She loves being in the limelight and making people fall for her.
  • Expy: Of Musetta, the singer, from La Bohème.
  • Genki Girl: "Over the Moon" shows us just how... vivacious she can be.
  • It's All About Me: Tends to get pissy when the attention isn't on her. Also takes no responsibility in her strained relationship with Joanne, claiming it's just all the attention she receives that causes her to be this way.
  • Lady in Red: In the movie's "Tango: Maureen" sequence, she wears a red dress and a rose in her hair.
  • Ladykiller in Love: Deconstructed. Maureen might be head over heels in love with Joanne...but she can't change her ways, even flirting with people at their engagement party in the movie. This causes their relationship to break for a while.
  • Large Ham: Oh God yes, "Over the Moon" is all about showing off just how hammy she can be. She even breaks the fourth wall and gets the audience (yes, YOU, the audience members) to moo with her.
  • Manic Pixie Dream Girl: To Joanne. Was probably this for Mark, as well.
  • The Masochism Tango: The tango... Maureen.
  • Never My Fault: Claims that everyone is just attracted to her beauty without her doing anything about it, despite blatantly flirting with anyone who's in her line of sight for more then two minutes.
  • Plucky Comic Relief: Maureen is easily the least serious character in this musical, and has one of the funniest songs as well.
  • Sidekick Song: "Over the Moon".
  • So Beautiful, It's a Curse: As she states in "Take Me Or Leave Me" to justify how she acts.
    Maureen: Every single day, I walk down the street.
    I hear people say, "Baby's so sweet!"
    Ever since puberty, everybody stares at me!
    Boys, girls, I can't help it, baby...

Joanne Jefferson
Originally played by Fredi Walker (Tracie Thoms in The Movie)

Maureen's girlfriend. A Harvard educated lawyer who advocates for Maureen's social justice causes while also putting up with the latter's unfaithfulness.

  • Butch Lesbian: She's not completely masculine, but she's mostly seen wearing suits and ties.
  • Closer to Earth: Compared to the rest of her circle of friends, she is the only one with a high-paying, steady, professional career, and is basically the only thing keeping Maureen and Mark from imploding.
  • Expy: To a lesser extent than the other characters, but she does vaguely parallel Alcindoro from La Bohème.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Though mostly because being with Maureen forces her to be extra paranoid whenever it looks like she may be flirting with someone.
  • I Take Offense to That Last One!: She's alright with Maureen calling her a snob and a control freak (among other names), although the one that really makes her snap is "anal retentive".
  • Odd Friendship: With Mark, due to them both dating Maureen.
  • Only Sane Woman: She's the one within the circle of eight friends that's nearly consistently grounded, having found a solid counterbalance between working within society (as a lawyer) while also supporting creative designs (such as those of Mark and Maureen).
  • Out of Focus: She is the only one of the eight primary characters who doesn't get her own solo in the film, which was rectified by giving her the solo in "Seasons of Love".
  • The Masochism Tango: She and Mark sing a whole song about it!
  • Twofer Token Minority: She's black, gay, AND a woman.


Benjamin "Benny" Coffin III
Originally played by Taye Diggs

The former roommate of Mark, Roger, Maureen, and Collins, and a sometimes-lover of Mimi's. Benny married into the family of a real estate developer and, in the eyes of his friends, has sold out.

  • Actually Pretty Funny: He's actually amused when Collins confesses that Angel killed Evita, his wife's dog. Benny then admits he didn't like the dog.
  • Alternative Character Interpretation: Is he a sellout who is just callously throwing his friends under the bus and forcing gentrification on a unique neighborhood, just so make more money and impress his new upper-class society friends and family? Or is he a Reasonable Authority Figure who tries to help his artistic friends with his plan despite having no artistic inclinations himself, only to have his offer spat on because apparently making money off their art would somehow "lessen the impact" of it all? Keep in mind neither of them is entirely wrong. Most nuanced portrayals of him have him as a combo of both, with the actor left to interpret if he's more of a Designated Villain or Anti-Villain.
  • Anti-Villain: He has good intentions and wants to see the neighborhood thrive, but his plans include displacing an entire tent city of homeless people who have nowhere else to go, and he's basically a jerk to his friends.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: At least, the rest of the gang sees him as this. Going back on your word about not charging your friends rent probably had something to do with that.
  • Designated Villain: Yes, it is shitty of him to demand an entire year's worth of rent from his friends under the feeble excuse of I Lied when they point out he let them stay there a whole year for free. But he also cares about trying help his artistic friends achieve their dreams and pays for things like Angel's funeral and Mimi's rehab.
  • Evil Former Friend: As above.
  • Expy: Of Benoit, the landlord, from La Bohème.
  • Friendly Enemy/Vitriolic Best Buds: With Collins, at least.
  • Graceful Loser: When his attempts to get Maureen's protest cancelled, he gave a toast at the restaurant where she was celebrating and said her show was a success.
  • Hope Spot: He offers to cover Mimi's rehab and medical treatment so that she has a fighting chance at life. Unfortunately, by next Christmas she's dying.
  • I Lied: When he became their landlord, he told Mark and Roger that they could stay in the building for free, and then he goes back on his word. When confronted about this, he claims he just "let it slide".
  • The Idealist: He used to be this. Roger asks "What happened to Benny? What happened to his heart and the ideals he once pursued?"
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Sure, he can be a bit of a dick, but he really is a decent guy beneath it all, paying for the cost of Angel's funeral without question and paying for Mimi's rehab when Mark mentions that he knows a clinic.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: More favorable portrayals and interpretations tend to position him here. He's going back on a promise he made to his former friends, screwing them over in the process, and he isn't exactly nice about it. But he also at one point notes that out of all of them he's the only one of them actually trying to improve the neighbourhood (even if his way is basically gentrification) rather than simply living in squalor under the guise of 'rejecting the system' and/or remaining true to their artistic integrity (or pretensions, if you choose to view them unfavourably). He also argues when his former friends protest his treatment of the homeless that their objections to his actions are more self-serving and self-interested (not losing their apartment and/or performance space) than they're willing to admit.
  • Never Speak Ill of the Dead: Zigzagged. With his dog, not so much, but with Angel, he pays for her funeral and finds it Actually Pretty Funny that she killed Evita.
  • Pet the Dog: Even though he's at odds with the main cast, he does perform several redeemable acts.
    • He attends Angel's funeral, even though she was responsible for killing his Akita. Then he steps up and says he's paying for it
    • When Mimi's health starts to deteriorate, Benny offers to pay the bills for rehab and medical treatment.
    • In the end of the show, he finally decides to let everyone off on paying their rent.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: In-Universe, upon his marriage to Alison.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: He sees what he's doing as being in the best long-term interests of the neighborhood.
  • Yuppie: Benny is literally referred to as "yuppie scum" by his former friends and sports a preppy sweater.


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