Follow TV Tropes

Following

Composite Character / Theatre

Go To

Composite Character in Theatre.


  • Billy Flynn, "the silver-tongued prince of the courtroom" of Chicago, was a composite of William Scott Stewart and W. W. O'Brien, the real life attorneys of Belva Gaertner and Beulah Annan (the real life Velma Kelly and Roxie Hart).
  • Cirque du Soleil's Japan-only tour Fascination combined acts from Le Cirque Réinventé and Nouvelle Experience; appropriately, the Ringmaster here was a composite of the Reinvente Ringmaster and the Great Chamberlain of Nouvelle, who served similar emcee functions. This Ringmaster had the Reinvente costume and backstory of a transformed "Ordinary Person", but was played by Nouvelle's actor (Brian Dewhurst) and from there participated in the latter show's slackwire act.
  • Advertisement:
  • Anthony Burgess combines Cyrano's best friend Le Bret with his Captain Carbon de Jaloux in his adaptation of Cyrano de Bergerac.
  • In Der Ring des Nibelungen Hagen is a merging of several versions of the same character. Like in Literature/Nibelungenlied he is a grim figure, like Nibelungenlied and Thidreks Saga he kills Siegfried, like Thidreks Saga his father is an elf and like Saga of the Volsungs he is Gunther's brother (though the Nibelungenlied calls him a kinsman the relation is not clear). He also seems to have some merging with Bastard Bastards like Edmund from King Lear.
    • Wagner also conflated Loki, Norse god of mischief, with Logi, a god of fire. He may have done this mistakenly, or based his characterisation on a previous scholar who made the mistake.
  • In Dreamgirls, Effie White is not only patterned primarily after "third Supreme" Florence Ballard, but also after Etta James and Aretha Franklin.
  • In Bernard Pomerance's The Elephant Man, Ross is a composite of Tom Norman (Merrick's manager when Treves met him, and a fairly decent guy as far as P.T. Barnum types go) and the Belgian showman who abandoned him and robbed him of his life's savings.
  • Pseudolus from A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, an amalgam of various trickster servant characters from the works of Roman playwright Plautus.
  • Advertisement:
  • Inverted in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. In early recordings of the show, it's an anonymous "lively lad" who tells Pharaoh about Joseph; in later ones, it's the butler Joseph's already met, which makes a lot more narrative sense. Were the two characters combined when the musical was revised? On the contrary—somebody must have gone back to the Book of Genesis and noticed that in the book, the lad in question is Pharaoh's butler.
  • Mimi and Rodolfo in La Bohème merge the original novel Scenes de la Vie de Boheme's characters of Mimi and Rodolphe with another couple from the novel, Francine and Jacques, whose romance also ends with the girl dying of tuberculosis. Details the opera borrows from the latter couple include the way they meet, the operatic Mimi's sweeter personality, and her romantic death scene, as opposed to the original Mimi's Dying Alone.
  • Advertisement:
  • Joanne in La Bohème's Setting Update, RENT, is a female version of Alcindoro, but also inherits some traits from Marcello (the Mark character).
  • In Les Misérables, Thenardier's henchman Brujon takes his name from a minor criminal who only associated with Thenardier. His status as The Brute comes from the novel's Gueulemer. The musical also does away with the Thenardiers' second daughter, Azelma, giving her plot points to Madame Thenardier (which is not difficult, since the point of the character was that she was growing up just like her mother).
  • In most productions of the opera The Magic Flute, the role of the Speaker, a dialogue-only character who guides Tamino and Papageno through their second act trials, is merged with that of the old priest Tamino encounters in the first act finale. This has been standard practice for so long that few people know that they originally may not have been the same character.
  • The stage version of Newsies replaces reporter Brian Denton and Jack's love interest Sarah with Katharine Plumber, a reporter who becomes Jack's love interest.
  • The Phantom of the Opera:
    • Almost every adaptation transplants most aspects of the Persian aka Daroga's character (someone who knows all about the Phantom) into Madame Giry.
    • In the original novel, Raoul is a bit of an Upper-Class Twit who relies on the Daroga's know-how to survive Erik's machinations. In the musical, the Daroga is omitted, and Raoul becomes much more competent as a result. Similarly since Raoul’s older brother Philippe is also omitted, Raoul gets his social status and more composed personality.
    • The musical notably fuses Christine with La Sorelli, a more minor character from the original story who is omitted from the musical. In the novel Sorelli is a ballet dancer and best friends with fellow dancer Little Meg Giry and whom is an overtly superstitious person. In the musical all these traits are transplanted to Christine, with her being a superstitious ballet dancer/chorus girl and close friend to Little Meg (in the novel they don’t even interact) who upgrades to main singer.
  • In Pokémon Live!, MechaMew2 is primarily based on Mewtwo, but also has Mew's unique feature of knowing every Pokemon move.
  • In the musical version of Reefer Madness, Jimmy Harper is a composite of the original film's protagonist Bill Harper and his girlfriend Mary's kid brother Jimmy.
  • In Frank Wildhorn's musical of The Scarlet Pimpernel, Percy's eighteen strong League of The Scarlet Pimpernel (aside from Percy himself and brother-in-law Armand), was folded up into nine men: Dewhurst note , Elton, Farleigh, Ben, Hal, Ozzy, Hastings, Neville, and Leggett. Later revisions cut the later three men out and give their lines to the first six.
  • In 1776, John Adams is somewhat combined with his cousin Sam Adams, who doesn't appear in the play. Many people now associate the quote about how there would be trouble "a hundred years hence" if slavery was allowed to continue to John when it was really Sam who said it. (Incidentally, they had to take out the "hundred years" bit because they thought the audience would never believe it.)
  • Happens too often to count in Shakespeare's history plays, and not just characters, but also with battles and other events.
  • Shadowlands combines Joy Gresham's two sons into one. This is also done for the film version; the original teleplay kept both sons.
  • The musical Show Boat combined two characters from Edna Ferber's novel, the heavy Frank and the juvenile lead and Elly's husband Schultzy, into Frank Schultz. Ike Keener, the sheriff of Lemonye, and Vallon, the police chief of New Orleans, were similarly combined into Ike Vallon. The 1929 film version of Show Boat made Hetty Chilson, a character from Ferber's novel that was eliminated from the musical, an alternate identity of Julie.
  • In the unofficial stage adaptation of Film/Showgirls, the characters Gaye and Marty were combined to make one flamboyant character simply called 'Gay.'
  • Part of the reason that The Threepenny Opera is Darker and Edgier than the original Beggars Opera is because of this trope. In the original, Macheath is a fairly sympathetic (if lecherous) example of The Highwayman, and Peachum is a corrupt thief-taker (he works both sides of the law- he conspires with criminals, but also turns those criminals in for a reward when they're outlived their usefulness to him). In Brecht's version, Peachum, while still corrupt, is the head of a beggar's guild, and Macheath is a much more unpleasant gangster. This version of Macheath is a "grass" and he gets the lines of the original Peachum when he treacherously plots to turn the loyal members of his gang to save his own skin.
  • Some productions of Twelfth Night cut Fabian and give his role in Act II, Scene V to Feste. In fairness, it's almost too easy to do this, since Maria earlier tells Toby, Andrew and Feste to show up for the said scene, and Fabian never appears until that moment, when he's introduced as a whole new character who has inexplicably been invited to join the fun, while Feste is nowhere to be found. Some analysts have speculated that Fabian was invented for some practical reason or other, and that Feste was originally supposed to appear in the scene.
  • In Wicked, Fiyero and Boq, via spells by Elphaba and Nessarose, are transformed into the Scarecrow and the Tinman. In the original novel, they were all separate characters.
    • Fiyero's musical counterpart is also a composite of the original Fiyero (Elphaba's love interest and a prince) and minor character from the book named Avaric (most of his personality traits). Meanwhile the name "Avaric" was given to a retainer of Fiyero who is only seen onstage breifly.
  • In the Opera of All the King's Men, entitled Willie Stark, Stark's aide Jack Burden supplants his love interest Anne's brother, Adam, in ultimately killing Stark.
  • You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown has Patty, whose lines and scenes come not only from the original comic strip's Patty (not to be confused with the later Peppermint Patty), but also Violet, Frieda, and Sally (enough of Sally, in fact, that the Broadway revival went ahead and re-identified the character).
  • Merrily We Roll Along: Joe Josephson, Gussie Carnegie's producer and husband whom she divorces for Frank in the musical, is a composite of two characters from the original play, a producer named P. J. Morton and an actor husband named Harry Nixon (who is Spared by the Adaptation).
  • In Elf: The Musical, Walter's boss Mr. Greenway is a combination of Mr. Greenway and Miles Finch from the movie.
  • In the Reduced Shakespeare Company's Shakespeare's Long-Lost First Play (abridged), the conceit is that this massive tome (a "quarto-pounder") contains elements and characters from all Shakespeare's later plays. In addition to characters gaining elements of another character because of who they're playing off (such as Lady Macbeth encouraging her fiance Hamlet to be more Macbethy) there are a few explicit composites: Dromeo is Launce from Two Gentlemen of Verona with Romeo elements; Richard III turns into Richard II when his hunchback is removed; and Lear's daughters are the three witches.
  • In Para Handy - A Voyage Round The Stories of Neil Munro, Sunny Jim, who was introduced in the second Para Handy book, takes The Tar's place in scenes based on stories from the first book. (Except the bit based on "The Valentine Card That Missed Fire", in which Sunny Jim stands in for Dougie, and Dougie stands in for The Tar.)
  • In the musical version of Heathers, Martha gains the friendship with Veronica and upbeat personality of Betty from the film version.
  • In Flashdance: The Musical, Jeanie and Tina Tech from the film are combined into Gloria.
  • The post-Broadway stage productions of The Little Mermaid, excluding the Junior version, adapt out Carlotta and give her lines to Grimsby.
  • Stupid F^%!ing Bird, a modern deconstruction of The Seagull, composites Sorin and his physician Dr. Dorn as Dr. Sorn.
  • The character of Thuy in Miss Saigon is a composite of two characters in Madame Butterfly: Cio-Cio-San's uncle the Bonze, who disrupts her wedding to denounce her for converting to Christianity, and Yamadori, a rich man whose marriage proposal she rejects in Act II. He also gains Adaptational Villainy and Death by Adaptation.
  • In the play El Burlador de Sevilla, thought to be the origin of the Don Juan myth, Don Juan seduces a lady named Doña Isabela while masquerading as her lover, Duke Octavio. He later tries a similar trick with one Doña Ana, whose father duels him, is killed, and ultimately comes back as the Stone Guest. Mozart's Don Giovanni, like other retellings of the legend before it, conflates the two incidents and the two women, making Donna Anna the fiancée of Don Ottavio.
  • Westeros: An American Musical:
    • The Sand Snakes get an Adaptational Early Appearance via tagging along with Oberyn to King's Landing. This results in them taking on the role of Oberyn's long-term paramour Ellaria, who doesn't appear in the play but was the one to come with him to King's Landing in the source material.
    • Olenna Tyrell is the one to become a member of the Small Council and later one of the judges in a murder trial instead of her son Mace, who is mentioned but doesn't appear onstage.
  • Head Over Heels, The Musical of Philip Sidney's Arcadia, merges Pyrocles, the source story's Disguised in Drag character, with his cousin Musidorus.
  • In most adaptations of How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, the Narrator is a separate being disconnected from the rest of the cast. In the stage musical, the Narrator is an elderly Max, essentially turning the story into a flashback from his perspective.
  • In Eurydice, Eurydice acts as both herself, the wife of Orpheus, and as Persephone, Hades' wife who he kidnapped to make his bride.

Top