Editor Emma Clarendon looks at some of the musical theatre leading lady characters who she admires…

Having recently caught The Barn Theatre’s fabulously imaginative concert The Secret Society of Leading Ladies, which is a real celebration of selection of female characters in musicals, it got me thinking about some of my favourites.

First up is the glorious Elle Woods from Legally Blonde the Musical. At first she thinks all there is to her is being blonde and spending time gossiping and shopping. To then see her achieve so much by going to law school (yes it was accidental as she was in pursuit of a man) and take control of her life in a new direction is very inspiring to watch. If I’m having a down moment – I try to channel my inner Elle Woods!

Donna Sheridan from Mamma Mia! is free spirited, adventurous and courageous in the way she handles everything with great confidence. She really knows and values the power of friendship and never gives up on her dreams – no matter how many obstacles are in her way.

Elphaba from Wicked: yes Elphaba might be an outcast from her family and those around her but instead of being bitter about it she channels it into something positive: to help her fight for things that she believes in. If only we could all be able to do that.

Tracy Turnblad, Hairspray: you don’t get anymore characters happy when facing a problem – whether it is helping to fight against racial inequality or following her dreams of being a dancer than Tracy Turnblad. Her boundless optimism and energy is certainly something that we could use more of in the world.

Velma Kelly, Chicago: in complete contrast, while Velma Kelly is essentially a bad girl, you can’t help but admire her cunning and manipulative behaviour in order to get what she wants. She is not someone that you can say no to – that strength of character is certainly to be admired…even if her actions aren’t.

These are my top five picks, but I also have a lot of time for the quirky appeal of Amelie from Amelie the musical, Anya from Anastasia the musical, Eponine from Les Miserables and Violet from 9 to 5 the musical. All of these female characters and more show the depth and range of women’s personalities and celebrates it.

The Secret Society of Leading Ladies is available to stream until the 7th March. Tickets can be purchased at barntheatre.org.uk/barn-at-home.