From the simple act of playing catch with his son in the backyard to the big moment of walking his daughter down the aisle, dad holds a special place in our hearts throughout childhood and beyond. And those moving experiences have inspired many a song about the everlasting father-child bond. Here, leaders in local theater share their favorite songs about dad—who always will be their leading man.
Executive producer, The Muny
From Billy Bigelow in Carousel to Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof, musical theater dads often wonder what it means to be a good father. A new member of this tribe is Gomez in The Addams Family, which we’ll be producing at The Muny this summer. In Andrew Lippa’s lovely second act song, Happy/Sad, Gomez shares his feelings toward his daughter’s engagement: I'm feeling happy, I'm feeling sad / A little childish, a little Dad / I think of all the days you’ve known / All the ways you’ve grown / See you on your own, and then / I’m feeling happy, and sad, again. It’s a witty, heartfelt moment—equally confident and befuddled. Just like my dad.
Executive producer, STAGES St. Louis
What he loved he taught me / Now music’s what I do… Who else does a son learn more from than his father? This life-affirming song from Richard Maltby’s and David Shire’s acclaimed musical revue, Closer Than Ever, perfectly captures the passing of knowledge, passion and livelihood from a father to his son. It beautifully and subtly explores the ever-changing relationship between children and their parents, and with a lyric as simple as If I sing you are the music / If I love you taught me how, Maltby and Shire give credit where credit is due, to the men that inspired them most—their fathers.
General director, Opera Theatre Saint Louis
It happens that we’re performing Mozart’s The Magic Flute this Father’s Day, so I pick the hilarious, heartwarming love duet of Papageno and Papagena. It’s a song of two unlikely creatures who find the perfect mate in one another, and how excited they are to start having loads of children. That will be "the highest of all pleasure," they sing. Mozart had young kids himself. The music is so beautiful; I think he was writing about his own experience as a dad. I love it so much; it’s actually the song to which my wife and I recessed up the aisle at the end of our wedding.
Artistic director, The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis
One of my favorite songs about dads is Johnny Cash’s famous rendition of A Boy Named Sue. It has some great, good-old-boy humor, and tells the story of a father who names his son Sue, a name that will surely bring some pain and suffering to the son throughout his life. The father's idea is that having this name would teach his son to be strong, and would help him handle whatever curves life would throw at him. The song builds a case for that until the very end, when it's revealed that if the singer were to have a son of his own, he would name him Bill or George—anything but Sue! The song showcases strength and angst; and it's a great, classic song as sung by Johnny Cash—written by Shel Silverstein, of all people!