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Ten Theatrical Fathers

TheaterMania celebrates Father's Day with a look at 10 of the most memorable stage sires. logo
George Hamilton as Georges in national tour of La Cage Aux Folles
(© Paul Kolnik)
Father's Day is just around the corner, and TheaterMania is marking the occasion by taking a look at ten of the most memorable fathers to be immortalized on stage.

Sacrificing your daughter for a favorable wind probably isn't the best way to win Father of the Year, but despite his doing so in the Ancient Greek play Iphigenia in Aulis, Agamemnon still inspired such love and devotion from his remaining children -- Electra and Orestes -- that they went to great lengths to avenge his death at the hands of their own mother, as seen in the Orestia trilogy.

Big Daddy
This character from Tennessee Williams' classic play Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (most recently played on Broadway by James Earl Jones in the 2008 revival) is the quintessential Southern patriarch, whose impending death threatens to upset the delicate family dynamic of his clan.

Captain Von Trapp
Rodgers and Hammerstein's beloved musical features one of the most positive father figures on this list. The good captain -- recently played by Tony Goldwyn on the stage of Carnegie Hall -- may start out gruff, but as he finds love with his children's governess Maria, he also opens his heart to his seven children.

In the musical La Cage Aux Folles, Georges (currently played on national tour by stage and screen star George Hamilton) is a gay man who fathered a son in his younger days, and raised him with the help of his loving partner, Albin/Zaza. While his son, Jean-Michel initially seems ungrateful for his upbringing, he eventually comes to see how lucky he is to be part of this non-traditional family.

James Tyrone
Eugene O'Neill's masterpiece, Long Day's Journey Into Night, introduces us to one of the most powerfully written -- and completely dysfunctional -- father/son relationships of the modern theater. James Tyrone is an alcoholic, aging actor who has made some questionable choices in his life, which has resulted in (among other things) a bitter enmity to arise between himself and his adult sons.

Jean Valjean
He may not be biologically related to the orphaned Cosette, but the protagonist of the musical Les Miserables -- soon to be seen in a big-screen adaptation starring Hugh Jackman -- is a devoted foster father. His efforts to save and provide for the girl are what ultimately give him the sense of purpose and chance at redemption he had been seeking.

Alton Fitzgerald White as Mufasa
in Broadway's The Lion King
(© Joan Marcus)
King Lear
After an ill-advised decision relating to his three daughters, Shakespeare's titular monarch learns all too well "how sharper than a serpent's tooth it is to have a thankless child." Needless to say, things don't turn out too well for him -- or his offspring, for that matter.

He may technically be an animal, but this character from Disney's The Lion King, currently played on Broadway by Alton Fitzgerald White, is also the embodiment of wisdom and nobility. And while he dies early on in the show, his spirit comes back to help his son Simba find his true path.

Troy Maxson
The protagonist of August Wilson's Fences -- most recently played on Broadway by Tony Award winner Denzel Washington -- has a volatile relationship with his younger son, Cory. He demands obedience and respect from his progeny, but Troy's actions end up pushing the young man away.

Willy Loman
Attention must be paid to this stage father, most recently brought to vivid stage life by Philip Seymour Hoffman in the 2012 Tony Award-winning revival of Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman. Willy's fraught relationship with elder son Biff is at the crux of this moving family drama.

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