With Father’s Day coming around, it’s time to look at the amazing Dads who make theatre happen – and sometimes make it go wrong; from dedicated Dads who give up their free time to take their kids to dance classes, singing lessons and auditions, to absent Dads and imperfect situations in shows like Carousel and Mamma Mia.
Father figures play a pivotal role in the tales theatre tells. But even the best dads screw up sometimes – after all, there’s no handbook or manual to follow. So, whether you have a brilliant dad who figured it out without the instructions, or one who keeps scoring own-goals, you’ll almost certainly identify with at least one of the characters below.
Mufasa – The Lion King
Mufasa is the true Alpha Male of musical theatre. He holds dominion over the Pride Lands and is father to Simba. Empowered by the twin strengths of wisdom and experience, Mufasa tries to both guide and protect Simba. Through Mufasa, Simba learns the difference between bravery and bravado. Whereas the cast of Cats might give you a nasty scratch, Mufasa would eat you whole. Still, with a dad like Mufasa, at least you’d never get picked on at school.
Pros: Amazing dad, with the most covid-safe mask in all of theatre land.
Cons: A little lazy when it comes to food shopping – leaves the lionesses to do the hunting.
Jean Valjean – Les Misérables
Proving that no good deed goes unpunished, big-hearted Frenchman Jean Valjean spends 19 years in prison. His crime? Stealing some bread to feed his sister’s starving children. After his release and a near-miss with some hooky candlesticks, he decides to go straight, befriending a woman who has been injured in a hairdressing accident. After adopting her daughter. Valjean turns out to be a pretty amazing Dad and equips Cosette with all the life skills she will need in 19th Century France: wandering about in the garden and singing to passers-by through the railings.
Pros: Good at lifting runaway carts and great in a crisis.
Cons: Would fail any decent CRB check.
Mr. Heere – Be More Chill
One of the hottest new shows in town features the kind of dad that would make any teenage cringe. Mr. Heere is a dad who turns embarrassing bodies into an art form. Which of us hasn’t, at some point, wished our parents would stop wandering around in their underwear? If you ever experienced teenage angst, even for just a minute, this is the show for you! And if your parents are still embarrassing the hell out of you, buy them a ticket too!
Pros: Mr. Heere really does want his son to be happy and will do anything to make that happen.
Cons: He’s the kind of Dad who takes an entire musical just to put his pants on.
Del Boy – Only Fools and Horses
We could easily have picked Grandad, the loveable old codger who lives with Del and Rodney Trotter in their Peckham high-rise. But the real father figure in Only Fools and Horses is Del Boy – he’s the closest thing Rodney’s ever had to a dad. Del Boy’s sarcastic wit and wide-boy wheeler dealings may mask the love he shows his younger brother…but look past the witty put-downs and you’ll see a whole bucket of love.
Pros: There’s never a dull moment with a mush like Del Boy Trotter in the family.
Cons: You’ll need to be able to drive a three wheeler getaway car to keep up.
Billy Bigelow – Carousel
Despite being one of the great musicals of all time, Carousel has ‘issues’. Billy Bigelow is the loveable bad boy of musical theatre, but for all his handsome roguish charm, he is handy with his fists too. Carousel’s message of ‘stand by your man even if he beats you’ is really tricky to deal with today. He’s not the ideal father either – unless your idea of parenting is crashing your daughter’s first date as a ghost.
Pros: Charismatic and can get you more free candy floss than you could ever eat.
Cons: Domestic violence is never cool, no matter how nicely you sing about it.
Make up your own mind about Billy Bigelow – Carousel is at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre this summer.
Jerry Lukowski – The Full Monty
Our personal favourite dad, Jerry Lukowski is flawed, but there’s no denying how much he loves his son. When hit British movie The Full Monty was rewritten as American, we worried it might lose its charm. We needn’t have worried. The musical version of the show perfectly captures the spirit of a group of men trying to preserve their identities whilst struggling to provide for themselves and their families. It’s about time for a revival!
Pros: Any dad prepared to go ‘Fully Monty’ just to provide for his kid is pretty awesome.
Cons: Likely to get his kit off in front of your best mate’s parents.
Margaret New – Everybody’s Talking About Jamie
Some dads fall short. When they do, amazing women often step in to fill the gap. That’s never been more true than for Jamie New, who has more battles to fight than most. The amazing Margaret New is not only an incredible mother, she’s also more of a father than Jamie’s own dad could ever be. On Father’s day, let’s salute all the amazing women who do the job of both father AND mother.
Pros: Someone who’s prepared to be both mother and father is a very special person.
Cons: Sometimes being a lone parent can be lonely – make sure they know how loved they are.
Sam, Bill and Harry – Mamma Mia!
If not having a Dad can sometimes be tricky, having three of them can create a whole bunch of other trouble! Mamma Mia’s Sophie is faced with exactly this dilemma when she invites three potential fathers to her wedding to Sky. Fortunately, they all turn out to be pretty decent guys, even if one of them can’t sing in the movie….
Pros: Three dads for the price of one.
Cons: Triple the cost of postage on Father’s Day.
Mr. Wormwood – Matilda
When it comes to winning “Father of the Year” award, Mr Wormwood is unlikely to make anyone’s shortlist. Cruel and mocking, Matilda’s father stopped caring the moment he found out his daughter wasn’t a son. This used-car salesman and telly addict is one of Musical Theatre’s great comic anti-heroes – that’s the one award he probably would win.
Pros: No risk of helicopter parenting.
Cons: Unlikely to remember to feed you.
Larry Murphy – Dear Evan Hansen
When Evan Hansen’s father left, Evan was just a boy. His relationship with Larry Murphy comes about through a lie, albeit a well-intentioned one. But in the brief time that the lie is undiscovered, both Evan and Larry form a father/son-like bond. Larry becomes the father Evan longed for, and Evan provides Larry with the chance to make amends for his distant relationship with his own son. Larry is a long way from a perfect father, but this brief relationship demonstrates the positive effect of investing in our kids.
Pros: Offers Evan the father figure he longed for
Cons: Didn’t do such a great job with his own family.
A moving tribute to a very special dad
Not everyone has their Dad around. Father’s day can be especially tough to get through when you’ve lost someone near and dear. One of the most moving accounts we’ve read, as well as one of the most uplifting, was from Cambridge University student, Thomas Cox. In a Varsity Magazine article entitled A tribute to theatre, self expression, and my dad, Thomas describes losing his father the month before he started university. It was Theatre, and in particular joining the Cambridge University Show Choir that helped Thomas to cope.
These stories show that it takes a lot more than just biology to make a great dad. In Les Misérables, Jean Valjean might not have been Cosette’s own father, but he stepped into that role and changed her life forever. Show the the figure in your life just how much they mean to you with one of these amazing shows!
Here are a few great tips for more shows currently running, or coming soon, that would make a perfect treat for Father’s Day Theatre Dads. Whether you’re taking your dad, stepdad, grandparent, uncle, brother, or someone who’s been like a father to you, this is a day to remember those bonds and show how much they mean to us.
More great shows for Theatre Dads this Father’s Day
Find The Art of Banksy tickets from just £30.00 – step into the world’s largest collection of privately-owned Banksy art. For a short time only, this secretive artist’s major works and rare pieces from private collections can be seen together in the heart of the West End.
Find tickets for The Money from just £20.00 – a unique hybrid of immersive theatre and game where you join a group of complete strangers to decide how to spend a pot of real cash. The only catch is, to get the money, you all have to agree…and that’s not as easy as you think!
Find Back to the Future tickets from just £22.48 – take your Dad back in time to Hill Valley, California, 1985! One of the greatest movies ever made hits the West End stage – Marty McFly’s gone Back to the Future and now he’s in big trouble! The time-travelling DeLorean he arrived in hasn’t even been invented and to make matters worse, he’s changed the past and now he might not even be born!
Find tickets for The Play that Goes Wrong from £22.00 and Magic Goes Wrong from £24.00. If your dad’s a little accident prone, he’ll love these hilarious shows which capture the very best of British farce. Anything that can go wrong most definitely will. Perfect for every dad who loves a good laugh!
If your Dad loves a great thriller or a murder mystery, you can find tickets for The Mousetrap from £23.40 and The Woman in Black from £25.80. Spine chilling theatre at its very best, these shows have now been running in the West End for a combined total of 100 years!
Happy Father’s Day one and all!
This post is dedicated not just to the Dads in our lives, but to those we can’t be with. It’s a celebration of all those amazing people provide the love, support and nurture – the teachers, family, friends and also the many women who step in to be both mother and father when needed. A heartfelt, and truly happy ‘Theatre Dads Father’s Day’ to you all.
Loved this Father’s Day Theatre Dads post? Keep it in the family with our Musical Mammas Quiz and put your musical theatre knowledge to the test!