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The Best and Worst Fathers on Broadway

TheaterMania ranks the dads in ten Broadway shows, including La Cage Aux Folles, Billy Elliot, A Little Night Music, Next to Normal, and Fences.

By New York City
Kelsey Grammer and Douglas Hodge
in La Cage Aux Folles
(© Joan Marcus)
Kelsey Grammer and Douglas Hodge
in La Cage Aux Folles
(© Joan Marcus)
Father's Day is fast approaching, and we here at TheaterMania are paying tribute to 10 fictional dads currently appearing on the Great White Way. You can leave comments at the end of the story to say whether you agree or disagree with our assessments and your reasons for doing so. (You can also let us know who you think are the best and worst fathers in Broadway history!)

La Cage Aux Folles
Albin and Georges (played respectively by 2010 Tony Award nominees Douglas Hodge and Kelsey Grammer) top the list, because these gay dads go way beyond the call of duty to try to help their rather ungrateful son Jean-Michel make a favorable impression on his fiancee's ultra-conservative family. Through the love and generosity they display, Jean-Michel eventually comes to realize how lucky he is to have fathers like these two -- even if one of them often wears a dress!

The Lion King
The majestic Mufasa (currently played by Nathaniel Stampley, with Alton Fitzgerald White taking over June 15), is not only a great dad, he's a good king! He gives his life to save his son Simba from a stampede, and then comes back as a ghost to help guide Simba to fulfill his destiny.

Billy Elliot: the Musical
Billy's Dad (once more being played by 2009 Tony Award winner Gregory Jbara) might start off on the wrong foot by not being all too keen on his son taking dancing lessons, but not only does this coal miner come around, he does everything he can -- including crossing a strike line -- to ensure that Billy has the opportunity to audition for the prestigious Royal Ballet School.

South Pacific
Emile de Becque (currently played by William Michals, with Tony Award winner Paolo Szot returning to the role July 6) is a single dad raising his two mixed-race children during a time of intolerance and racial prejudice. That's certainly not easy -- particularly when his newfound love interest Nellie Forbush is quick to judge him for it -- but his devotion to his kids is unquestionable.

Mary Poppins
George Banks (Karl Kenzler) starts out as a rather neglectful father, too busy with his job to pay attention to unhappy children Jane and Michael -- who must instead seek love and approval from their nanny and a local chimney sweep. But over the course of this family-friendly musical, George undergoes a remarkable change to become one of the finest fathers on Broadway.

Nathan Lane in The Addams Family
(© Joan Marcus)
Nathan Lane in The Addams Family
(© Joan Marcus)
The Addams Family
Gomez Addams (Nathan Lane) isn't a bad father at all, unless you factor in that he allows his daughter Wednesday to continually physically torture his son Pugsley. But what family doesn't have its little quirks?

A Little Night Music
Busy attorney Frederik Egerman (Alexander Hanson) has married a woman young enough to be his daughter -- and whom his son Henrik actually loves! Granted, Frederik is unaware of his son's feelings (and it takes awhile for Henrik himself to sort them out), but perhaps if the father-son bond were stronger, they could have avoided some of the romantic messiness depicted within the show.

Next to Normal
Dan Brown (Brian d'Arcy James) would like to be a good father, but he spends so much time attending to the psychological problems of his mentally ill wife Diana that he neglects teenaged daughter Natalie, and for most of this Pulitzer Prize-winning musical, refuses to even talk about what happened to his son, Gabe.

Next Fall
Butch (Cotter Smith) is a conservative Christian who believes that homosexuality is an abomination. So it's not surprising that he refuses to acknowledge that his son Luke is gay, even when Luke is in the hospital and possibly about to die.

Fences
Garbage collector Troy Maxson, (played by 2010 Tony Award nominee Denzel Washington) takes seriously the responsibility that comes along with fatherhood. But he is not exactly the most loving Dad around. He particularly butts heads with younger son Cory, whose chances for getting a football scholarship are quashed by Troy. Sadly, a violent clash between father and son results in a rift that lasts up until one of their deaths.


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