Do you miss the lights, sights, and sounds of Broadway theaters? We do too! While we might not be able to see musicals and plays right now, that does not mean we can’t celebrate our passion for musical theater. Now, most of us stay rather in-the-closet about our love for them and that can still be the case. Names from musicals can be a subtle nod to the arts without being an obvious indicator that you were a drama club nerd in high school.
We decided to take a deep dive into the world of musical theater and highlight some names you would commonly hear on a Broadway stage. From the classic works of Gilbert & Sullivan to the new heights achieved by Lin-Manuel Miranda, we will take a look at some of the world’s favorite musicals and pull some of the most thrilling character names from them along with other creatives including composers and choreographers to bring you fully inspired musical theater baby names for girls. Without further ado, let’s light the lights, here are 25 baby names for girls inspired by musicals! Break a leg!
Angelica Schuyler is one of our favorite characters from Hamilton and that’s in no small part due to the excellent performance from Renée Elise Goldsberry who originated the role. Angelica is by far the choicest form of the angelic names and has origins in Russian, Polish, and Italian traditions as an alternative form of Angela. The name does, indeed, mean “angel.”
Tracy Turnblad couldn’t stop the beat in Hairspray, a quietly subversive musical with some of the most upbeat music you will find in any musical. Tracy is a retro name that has fallen from fashion in the US, but that could easily change! The name has French origins and it means “of Thracia.” It’s a gender-neutral option historically but this name has gone to more baby girls than boys.
Eliza Doolittle is a character who has pleased audiences in three iterations! First, we fell in love with her in the play Pygmalion, then she knocked our socks off in My Fair Lady when she was played by the iconic Julie Andrews. Later, the character appeared in a popular movie musical of the same name, played by legendary Audrey Hepburn. Eliza has been trending up since the 1960s and is nearly a top 100 baby names for girls again. It’s a form of the name Elizabeth which means “pledged to God” in the Hebrew tradition.
Eva Perón is inspiration from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical Evita. A real life inspiration as well as a beloved character played by greats such as Julie Covington, Elaine Paige, and Patti LuPone. Eva has historically been one of America’s most treasured options as it has been a top 100 name almost every year since 1880, when records of naming began. Eva has Latin origins and shares its roots with the name Eve which is a Hebrew name meaning “life.”
This one’s for the Ethel Merman fans out there! Gypsy Rose Lee is the ultimate show-mother in Stephen Sondheim’s Gypsy. Everything’s coming up roses with this option. Rose a sweet, flower name has experienced a revival in recent years after slipping in the nineties and early aughts. She’s back! Rose has Latin origins from rosa which refers to the flower as well.
Technically, you could classify Porgy and Bess as an opera and purists please do not fault us for including it here as a musical. We know! Porgy and Bess features some of George Gershwin’s richest music and it never sounded sweeter than when it was sung by Anne Brown who originated the musical’s Bess. Bess is another form of Elizabeth and it has not been popular in the US since the 1920s!
Velma Kelly, vaudevillian and murderess who is on trial for killing her cheating husband and sister, was gifted a wonderful name. In Kander and Ebb’s Chicago audiences are treated to some truly jazzy, gritty fare. Ten-time Tony winner Chita Rivera originated this one and it’s who we will always associate with the character! Velma is another form of Wilhelmina, a female form of William with German origins. Velma means “resolute protector” and you scarcely hear it today.
Jeanine Tesori and Lisa Kron were the first two women to ever win a Tony award for Best Original Score. Fun Home proved a winner for this team! Unfortunately, the playful name Jeanine has not been popular for babies in the US since the 1980s. The name is a French form of Jean which means “God is gracious.”
We return to the Chicago setting for another musical, Dreamgirls which documents the ups and downs of a female singing trio. Jennifer Holliday brought the house down when she sang the powerful ballad “And I’m Telling You I’m Not Going.” Her unforgettable turn as Effie landed her a Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actress. Effie is an English nickname taken from the Greek name Euphemia which means “pleasant speech.” Effie was one of America’s most beloved given names until the late 1950s.
Cosette is the child of Fantine in the smash Les Misérables which has been running on London’s West End since 1985, making it the longest-running musical ever there. Victor Hugo who wrote the novel on which the musical is based invented the name Cosette which we can take to mean “little thing.” This is not a subtle name as most only recognize it in its Les Miz context so, if you are a bold musical theater lover, this would be the one for you!
Glynis Johns won a Tony for her performance in A Little Night Music. She played Desiree who sang Stephen Sondheim’s most popular song, “Send in the Clowns” which is curious as it is one of his most rueful ones. Desiree has French origins and it means “wished.” The name has been in the US top 1000 since 1954 but its favor has fallen considerably making it ripe for a revival.
Staying with Sondheim who also wrote the lyrics for West Side Story with music from the genius Leonard Bernstein, we also will revisit one of our all-time favorites, Chita Rivera, who starred as Anita in this musical. West Side Story played by the rules but elevated the genre to new heights with bold music, choreography, and knockout performances. Anita is the character every young actress wants to play! Anita is a Spanish name and form of Ana which means “gracious.” The name has not made the top 1000 list in about twenty years and we would love to hear it more often.
Actor Carol Channing provides so much inspiration for a baby’s name. The legendary performer won countless awards for her expressive style and unique voice. She is best known for originating roles in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and Hello, Dolly! The latter performance earned her a Tony. Channing is a surname-name that has English or Irish origins that give meanings “people of Cana” or “wolf cub.” We love this one for a girl!
Adelaide is a German name that’s experiencing a renaissance right now. This favorite means “noble.” Miss Adelaide from Guys and Dolls is a perennial favorite beloved by many a high school student and community theatre members. “A Bushel and a Peck” has proven a timeless classic performed by this cherished character.
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People have strong opinions on both sides about the hit musical Cats. Whether you love it or hate it, TS Eliot who named many of the characters in his poems, had a knack for names. One of our favorites is Demeter who is a skittish sort of queen. Demeter is a name from Greek mythology who is the “earth mother.” A fitting meaning for this distinguished name.
Fans of In the Heights know the name Nina well. Nina is the first in her family to attend college and she desperately just wants to love Benny. Nina is a common nickname name in Spain and Russia, a Babylonian goddess of the oceans, and an Incan goddess of fire. It can also be a shortened form of any of the names ending with the suffix.
Tevye’s razor-sharp wife in Fiddler on the Roof is the source of inspiration for this name. Golde also found Gold, and Goldie is a Yiddish name that means Golde. Golde has never been roundly favored as a name for girls in the US but Goldie was very popular for a time.
Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma! has been delighting audiences for decades. Aunt Eller’s niece, an independent young woman, Laurey Williams shares a remarkable duet with Curley entitled “People Will Say We’re In Love.” Laurey is one of the more creative ways to spell Laurie and both are forms of the extremely popular Laura, an English name meaning “bay laurel.”
Offbeat and wonderful, Little Shop of Horrors is the weird horror-comedy musical we all know and love. Audrey is Seymour’s love interest with a difficult past. The name is also given to a man-eating alien plant who is referred to as Audrey II. While the source of inspiration is ridiculous, Audrey is a very serious-sounding moniker. The name has English origins and it means “noble strength.” This name is more popular today than ever before in the US.
Emma is a storied name you will find in many works of fiction. We felt inspired by Emma from Edgewater, Indiana who is banned from attending her high school prom with her girlfriend. The Prom is one of the newest entries to the genre that’s already been turned into a movie musical! Emma is one of the US’s most popular names that has German origins and means “universal.” It was the second most popular name for baby girls last year.
La Vie Bohème! A somewhat tragic character, Mimi from Rent has always stayed with us. Daphne Rubin-Vega originated the role and earned a Tony nom for it! Mimi is a common nickname for the Mary-Miriam variety. It was a popular given name until the seventies. We think it would be a very cute choice! This name can mean “drop of the sea,” “bitter,” or “beloved.”
One of our personal favorites and, without a doubt, our favorite Kander and Ebb musical, Cabaret is both entertaining and chilling. The lovable Sally Bowles inspires us with her name and who could forget Liza Minelli in the role for the movie adaptation? Sally is a treasured name that fell off the US top 1000 in 1992 for the very first time and it has remained absent as a popular pick among new parents. Sally is a form of Sarah a name with Hebrew origins that means “princess.”
Gilbert and Sullivan invented the modern musical as we know it and developed it into the art form we enjoy today. Their most-popular production was H.M.S. Pinafore and the show featured a character named Josephine who is the daughter of the captain who sings “The hours creep on apace.” Josephine has historically been one of the US’s most popular choices. It’s on the rise today, too! The name has French origins as a form of the name Joseph which means “Jehovah increases” in the Hebrew tradition.
Galinda from Wicked eventually becomes Glinda the Good Witch. Kristin Chenoweth wowed us all in the role and made the song “Popular” a huge hit for musical fans. Glinda is an invented name created by author L. Frank Baum for The Wizard of Oz. It’s related to the Welsh name Glenda which means “fair and good.” Glinda has not been popular in the US for baby girls since the middle of the last century.
The full name of the musical Hair is Hair: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical the wild show was considered radical in the sixties when it debuted and is still considered one of the defining pieces of pop culture to crystalize the zeitgeist of a generation of young people fed up with their conservative parents. Sheila is a character in the show who studies at NYU and has political aspirations. Sheila sounds wonderfully retro and it has not been wildly popular since the seventies. The name has Irish origins and is a form of Celia. This one means “blind.”
There you go! Do you feel pretty jazzed about these inspired names for girls? If you love musicals, go with your favorite character’s name to impart a love of the arts and a passion for great performances. We hope you feel inspired to use one of these names or, at least, we gave you an idea for a completely different one! Happy baby name hunting!
Andrew is a Chicago-based writer who enjoys finding the best of the internet, obsessively making lists, and cooking for friends. After studying Film and Art History, he developed a deep love for both topics. Celebrity news, pop culture, and stories that bring people together are his passions.
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