Celebrating Fathers of Musical Theatre
With today being Fathers Day I thought it was the perfect time to celebrate my top 10 Fathers of Musical Theatre , not only those who are wonderful fathers in the traditional sense but those that may have arrived at the father role in an untraditional way or those that go on a journey throughout the show.
1. Wilbur – Hairspray
Wilbur Turnblad is the father of Tracy in Hairspray and whilst he is always cracking jokes he love for his wife and daughter is serious. He not only supports his daughter unconditionally but he uses his family savings to try to bail her out of prison when she is arrested for protesting for equality. He is the first one to support her when she wants to audition for the Corny Collins show and is always telling her to think big.
2. Mustafa – The Lion King
Mustafa is one father that needs to introduction, father to Simba and King. Before his untimely death he tries to impart his wisdom to Simba during ‘They Live In You,’ and even after then he appears to Simba during ‘He Lives In You,’ to tell him to take his rightful place as King. His fatherly love and selflessness is exemplified by the fact that he leapt into the stampede in order to save Simba.
3. Jean Val John – Les Miserables
Jean Valjean may not be Cosette’s biological father but as a result of a death bed promise to her mother, Fantine, he saves her from the Thenadiers and from then onwards protects her as if she was his own daughter. He takes his responsibility as Cosette’s adopted father so seriously that he takes it upon himself to protect Marius due to Cosette’s love for him. His song ‘ Bring Him Home’ is focussed on this and it clear that he will protect Marius over his own safety. It is him who the famous line ‘to love another person is to see the face of god’ is said about and this love is his fatherly love for Cosette.
4. Captain Von Trapp – The Sound of Music
At the start of The Sound of Music Captain Von Trapp is an incredibly strict father, calling his 7 children by whistle and rarely seeing them. However through the show and under the influence of Maria he begins to soften and reaches the point where he sings with the children He is a father that may always have the children’s best interests at heart but initially struggles to show his love for them. He makes mistakes but continues to learn and as we see the family disappear into the Alps at the end of the show we know that he is a better father for the journey he has gone on.
5. Burr – Hamilton
Fatherhood becomes a focus in Hamilton when both Burr and Hamilton become fathers to Theodosia and Philip. They sing ‘Dear Theodosia’ which sums up the hopes for their children. They vow to be their for their children. For Hamilton this song is slightly ironic as later his son Philip is killed in a dual
6. Jackie Elliot – Billy Elliot
Jackie Elliot starts the musical out as a very traditional northern man who is aghast when he finds out the Billy has not been boxing but has instead been to ballet classes. However when Jackie sees Billy dance he realises that this is a passion for Billy and works to help Billy achieve his dream. Jackie’s journey is not straightforward and it takes help from the likes of Mrs Wilkinson to help him understand Billy’s gift however when Jackie crosses the picket line to help fund Billy’s audition and travels with him to his audition and remains supportive of him despite the stark contrast between him and the other parent’s at the audition.
7. Daddy Warbucks – Annie
Daddy Warbucks is another father figure who does not fall into the traditional father category. He is initially reluctant to take in an orphan for the holidays but Annie soon wins him over. Despite the fact that he wants to adopt her, when he hears of Annie’s wish to find her parents he does all he can to help her with this. His declaration of fatherly love to Annie is summed up during ‘Something Was Missing’ and it is clear that Annie has helped him as much as he has helped her.
8. Sam, Harry and Bill – Mamma Mia
In Mamma Mia we never actually find out who is Sophie’s Dad but it doesn’t really matter! All 3 of her potential father’s declare that biological father or not they care about her and want to be part of her life. Throughout the musical they all have a moment to bond with Sophie as Sophie tried to work out who should walk her down the aisle. Eventually she decides it should be Donna (phew) but we are all left thinking that the start of Sophie’s journey with these men in her life is just beginning
9. Larry Murphy – Dear Evan Hansen
Whilst Larry Murphy may not have been the perfect father to his own son he becomes the Father figure that Evan needs. Equally Evan provides Larry Murphy a chance to make amends for where he went wrong in his relationship with his own son. To Beak In A Glove is also a beautiful metaphor about fatherhood, raising children and trying to do your best for them.
10. Tevye – Fiddler on the Roof
Tevye is the narrator in Fiddler on the Roof and not only Father to five daughters but also a leader of his community. He is faced with the dilemma of trying to uphold the Jewish traditions of his community whilst his daughters want to marry for love. Even when the final decision to part ways with his daughter as they want to marry a non-Jewish man he still sends his blessings.
I hope you have enjoyed reading this. I think it is beautiful that musical theatre can show that Fatherly love can be in many forms. I would like to wish all of those who are reading this A Happy Fathers Day and send my love to anyone who may struggle with Father’s Day due to loss or distance (and many other reasons).
Who is your favourite Father Figure in Musical Theatre? I would love to hear from you.