Theatre / Feature

The best and worst mums in musicals this Mother’s Day

Those who deserve a Mother’s Day card… and those who really don’t!

Musical theatre boasts some of the most memorable mums the stage has ever seen, from the absolutely perfect to the unquestionably diabolical. We’ve gathered together the best and worst mothers gracing UK theatres this Mother’s Day.


Best mothers in musicals

From the wife of a Founding Father to lionesses prowling the Serengeti, our mothers from musicals on the nice-list are a very diverse, yet awesome, bunch.

Edna Turnblad from Hairspray

Few mothers would take it upon themselves to be their daughter’s manager as they soar to fame. Even fewer would do it while looking out for their daughter’s best interests. Edna Turnblad may disapprove of her daughter’s dancing dreams at first, but by the end of the first act she’s 100% in her corner.

For the Mother’s Day playlist: Welcome To The Sixties

Heidi Hansen from DEAR EVAN HANSEN

Always being there for your socially anxious teenage son is hard enough, but doubly so when you’re also struggling to make ends meet and studying for a better career. Heidi Hansen may not have all the answers and makes a mistake or two along the way, but her unshaken love for her son during the hardest time of his life cannot be denied.

For the Mother’s Day playlist: Anybody Have A Map?

Margaret New from Everybody’s Talking About Jamie

Some of Margaret’s choices in raising her son may have been tough, but as he grows up and into his own fabulous self, she has Jamie’s back no matter what. This includes everything from cheering him on at his first ever drag show to stretching her budget to help him along the way. Once she learns that honesty is the best policy, Jamie and Margaret are a team to be reckoned with.

For the Mother’s Day playlist: He’s My Boy

Margaret New

Miss Honey from Matilda The Musical

Miss Honey goes above and beyond her role as Matilda’s teacher, being there for her when her own parents would prefer that they didn’t even have a daughter. They may not be flesh and blood, but Matilda and Miss Honey prove that you can choose your family. She might not be aware of it, but Miss Honey is one of the most capable mother figures on this list.

For the Mother’s Day playlist: This Little Girl

Miss Honey

Sarabi from Disney’s The Lion King

The queen of the jungle is a powerful defender of the Pride Lands as well as a fantastic mother to Simba (although leaving him in the care of Zazu might have been a mistake in hindsight). Her motherly support reaches new heights when Scar stages a coup and she leads the other lionesses to fight for the pride.

For the Mother’s Day playlist: The Lioness Hunt

Lionesses

Donna Sheridan from MAMMA MIA!

She’s not perfect… but raising a daughter alone on an idyllic Greek island while running her own business definitely puts Donna on this best list. While she shrouded the identity of her daughter’s father in mystery for years, Donna doesn’t skimp when it comes to providing a loving and supportive environment to raise her. Despite her mistakes, who else would get the old band back together again just so her daughter’s hen party has the best live music?

For the Mother’s Day playlist: Slipping Through My Fingers

Donna Sheridan

Jenna Hunterson From Waitress

Everything Jenna does, is done to make sure her unborn child will have a better life than she has. Inspired by her own mother, who protected her from an abusive home growing up, mum-to-be Jenna is determined to break the cycle. There are a lot of imperfect mothers on our Best list, and Jenna might well be the best fit for that description, but it makes her all the more human. We love a trier, so she’s earned her spot.

For the Mother’s Day playlist: Everything Changes

Jenna Hunterson

Eliza Schuyler from Hamilton

Most of what makes Alexander Hamilton’s wife such an amazing mother is what happens after the curtain falls on Lin-Manuel Miranda’s hit musical about the infamous Founding Father. As well as raising eight children during the tumultuous first years of a new nation’s history, she also took in a friend’s orphaned child as her own. In her long life, her philanthropical work led to her founding a charity that looked after widows with small children, showing everyone that motherhood doesn’t stop with your own family.

For the Mother’s Day playlist: The Schuyler Sisters

Eliza Schuyler


Worst mothers in musicals

Not every mother in musicals is going to be Mum Of The Year but these ladies are really making sure that they aren’t even contenders. Add these songs to your Mother’s Day playlist at your own discretion!

Alaura Kingsley from City Of Angels

Things aren’t going great for you as a mother if you have to hire a PI to find your wayward stepdaughter. Alaura’s personal life certainly appears to be falling apart at the seams, with a sick husband and a playboy stepson to deal with as well. But is everything as it seems? Maybe Alaura has more of a handle on the situation than anyone can imagine.

For the Mother’s Day playlist: Lost And Found

Mrs Wormwood from Matilda The Musical

Matilda’s fate at the hand of her biological mother is easily one of the worst on our list (but maybe have a look at some of the others below before handing her the award!). Matilda is the last thing on Mrs Wormwood’s mind, caring more about making sure her tarantella is on point rather than her own daughter’s wellbeing… even during the birth!

For the Mother’s Day playlist: Loud

Mrs Wormwood

Madame Thénardier from Les Misérables

There are two children who suffer under Madame Thénardier’s care: Cosette, who she is paid to look after, and her own daughter Éponine. The first years of Cosette’s life contain a long litany of abuse in Madame Thénardier’s tavern where she’s forced to work, fed scraps and beaten. While she favours her own flesh and blood, it can’t be said that Éponine comes off any better for it in the long run.

For the Mother’s Day playlist: Master Of The House

Carmen Bernstein from Curtains

Anytime theatre producer Carmen is in the same room as her daughter Bambi (real name Elaine) she puts her down anyway she can. Show business is meant to be tough, but that’s where a little motherly love could go a long way. Carmen may have her reasons, but no cause could justify undermining your own daughter as she’s trying to make it as an actress.

For the Mother’s Day playlist: It’s A Business

Carmen Bernstein

Lady Capulet from & Juliet

Juliet puts it best when she says to her mother and father, “What kind of parents would rather see their daughter dead than be married to a man from the wrong family?” No redemption arc is big enough to come back from that. Luckily for Juliet, she doesn’t need her parents to feel stronger when she has her loyal nursemaid and friends with her on her path to true love.

For the Mother’s Day playlist: Overprotected


If your own mum is mad about musicals, be sure to check out our West End Guide for the perfect Mother’s Day gift ideas. Check out the songs we’ve picked to create a fantastic playlist too.

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