From Billy Elliot to Les Miz, Broadway's Most Memorable Fathers

News   From Billy Elliot to Les Miz, Broadway's Most Memorable Fathers
In celebration of Father's Day, the editorial staff at compiled a list of their favorite stage dads and most memorable fatherly moments. 

Some of the most affecting parent-child moments occur in the Broadway-bound Hamilton. "Dear Theodosia," a moment where Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton reflect on their unseen children, is one of the show's most touching moments. Burr sings, "When you came into the world you cried and broke my heart. I'm dedicating every day to you." Hamilton joins him in the song as the two compare their growing children to the young nation.

Harvey Fierstein as Tevye, with loving daughters
Harvey Fierstein as Tevye, with loving daughters Photo by Joan Marcus

Fiddler on the Roof
Tevye struggles with so much change throughout Fiddler on the Roof, and much of it is introduced by his three daughters and their determination to change their lives rather than only honor Tevye's beloved traditions. But his love for his children inspires him to continue to grow and evolve as a person, even as the life he knew changes before his eyes.

Into the Woods
When the Baker holds his son and, with the coaxing of the ghost of his wife, begins to tell him the story of how he came to be - “Once upon a time” leads into The Witch singing “Children Will Listen" - it is a guaranteed tear-jerker.

Sweeney Todd
For all of his character flaws, you can’t say Sweeney Todd wasn’t a dedicated father.  Everything he goes through was meant to lead to a reunion with his daughter, Johanna and his wife. 

The Secret Garden 
“Race You to the Top of the Morning": Knowing how cold Archibald Craven has been up to this point, when he sings his asleep son a bedtime story (so he won’t be seen) and how it becomes his story — that’s just perfect. Lucy Simon’s melody and Marsha Norman’s beautiful lyric can’t be beat.

Sweeney Todd shows the lengths a father will go to for his daughter
Sweeney Todd shows the lengths a father will go to for his daughter

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Though much of the play is focused on Christopher’s memories and longing for his mother, the relationship between him and his father is what leaves the most lasting impact on the audience. Christopher’s father Ed experiences extreme emotions, devastated by his wife’s leaving him, but lacks in his ability to communicate, which often results in him blowing up in anger. Despite this, he and Christopher achieve a unique harmony. He lovingly and carefully prepares meals for his autistic son and is incredibly protective of him. There are moments in the play where their bonding, despite their differences, is remarkably moving.

Calming his scared daughter on a crowded train, Tateh shows her a flip-book he has made of the two of them ice-skating. The story becomes personal, as he tells his daughter to close her eyes and imagine her mother just ahead. Stephen Flaherty’s lilting music and Lynn Ahrens' evocative lyrics are lovely.

The quiet, beautiful ending of March of the Falsettos (or Act One finale of Falsettos), between Dad Marvin and son Jason, in the song "Father to Son" is poignant. The lyric “I loved you. I love you, I meant no disgrace” packs an emotional punch.

Michael Rupert and Jonathan Kaplan are father and son in <i>Falsettos</i>
Michael Rupert and Jonathan Kaplan are father and son in Falsettos Photo by Joan Marcus

The Speed of Darkness
In this Steve Tesich play, Vietnam veteran Joe is a building contractor, who has never fully adapted to normal civilian life, even long after he returned from combat. He also has a terrible secret that is literally buried in his yard. In the most dramatic scene of the play, he meets his daughter's date Eddie, who makes the mistake of trying to make small talk and asking Joe what it was like in Vietnam. Joe grabs Eddie by his privates and twists hard, and asks him what it’s like having sex with his daughter. His point is, some things are so private and personal that they can’t be discussed idly, especially with certain people.

Les Miserables
Even though he's not Cosette's biological father, Jean Valjean demonstrates his devotion to his adopted daughter in countless ways. His courage, dedication and undying faith to honoring his promise to Cosette's late mother Fantine and provide Cosette with a better life than her mother had are inspiring. One moment that never fails to impact the audience is Valjean's heartfelt delivery of "Bring Him Home" during the second act. When his tenor rings out, "He's like the son I might have known if God had granted me a son," it is one of the purest father-son moments in the musical theatre.

Ramin Karimloo sings "Bring Him Home" to the son he's never known
Ramin Karimloo sings "Bring Him Home" to the son he's never known Photo by Matthew Murphy

Billy Elliot
There’s a moment late in the show where Billy and his dad are being asked some questions by the audition panel at the Royal Ballet School. The panel worries that Billy’s blue-collar dad might not fully support Billy’s ambitions. They ask him, “You are completely behind Billy, are you not?” Billy’s dad starts to answer the panel, and then stops himself, turns to his son and says directly to Billy, “Yes, I am.” It is such an honest, loving moment and very moving.

Between Riverside and Crazy
In Stephen Adly Guirgis’ play, Pops, a retired, battered policeman, borders on the paternal and the profane, at times embracing, but more often than not, abrasive. Despite his shaky relationship with his own son, recently released from jail Junior, Pops’ warmth, generosity and eternal youthfulness make him an unforgettable and unique father figure.

"I see his face. I hear his heartbeat. I look in those eyes. How wise they seem… When he is old enough, I will show him America. And he will ride on the wheels of a dream." For one shining moment, there is so much love and hope as Coalhouse Walker, Jr. and Sarah hold their new-born baby and dream of a brighter future. It is stirring and, unfortunately, short-lived, but as the two characters' voices rise in unison, one's heart can't help but swell from the love of this powerful trio of Dad, Mom and son.

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