“Fun Home” Wows Crowds With Its 5th Avenue Theatre Premiere

(From L) Carly Gold as 'Small Alison', Luké Barbato Smith as 'Christian' and Henry Boshart as 'John' in Fun Home Photo credit: Joan Marcus

“Fun Home,” the 2015 Tony Award winner for Best Musical makes its Northwest premiere at Seattle’s 5th Avenue Theatre. The production runs through July 30th. Critic’s embraced its originality as a much-needed breath of fresh air in the Broadway cannon. Not since Sondheim . . . some hailed.

Based on Alison Bechdel’s 2006 best-selling, graphic memoir of the same name, the musical is refreshingly honest and the first Broadway musical with a lesbian protagonist.  Weaving tragedy with comedy in a fragile and shattering approach, it deals with an eccentric and troubled family—seeing your parents through grown-up eyes, and finding out and accepting who you are.

Carly Gold as 'Small Alison' in Fun Home. Photo credit: Joan Marcus

Carly Gold as ‘Small Alison’ in Fun Home.
Photo credit: Joan Marcus

Alison is introduced at three different ages, as she discovers her own sexuality, explores her relationship with her gay father (Bruce) in her attempt to unlock the mysteries surrounding his life. He teaches English, has a passion for restoring Victorian houses to their former glory, and runs a funeral home. Hence the title “Fun Home,” referring to the family funeral parlor.  Then add Daddy’s deep, dark secret: He picks up young boys on the down low.

“Fun Home” is both a coming-of-age and a coming-out musical. It made history during the 2015 Broadway season, receiving raves from critics and audiences alike for its craftsmanship and originality. Nominated for 12 Tony Awards and winning five, including Best Musical, it is the first musical written exclusively by women to win theater’s highest achievement. Lisa Kron (lyrics) and Jeanine Tesori (music) made history by becoming the first female writing team to be awarded a Tony for the Best Score.

Lisa Kron also won a Tony for Best Book, as did Sam Gold for Best Direction of a Musical. (The fifth 2015 Tony Award went to Michael Cerveris. He won Best Actor in a Leading Role of a Musical for his portrayal of Bruce Bechdel.)

Robert Petkoff, Susan Moniz, and Kate Shindle are all making their 5th Avenue Theatre debuts.

Petkoff portrays Bruce, described as “the most difficult role in the musical.” But Petkoff has the chops to pull it off. His numerous Broadway credits include “All The Way” (with Bryan Cranston), as well as “Anything Goes,” “Ragtime,” “Spamalot,” “Fiddler On The Roof,” and “Epic Proportions.”  He has performed in London in “The Royal Family” with Dame Judi Dench. He has been seen in film in “Irrational Man,” “Vice Versa,” “Milk and Money,” and “Gameday,” On television, he has appeared “Elementary,” “Forever,” “Law and Order: SVU,” “The Good Wife,” among others.  Petkoff is also an award-winning audiobook narrator.

Portraying Bruce’s neglected, repressed, and resentful wife Helen, Moniz Broadway stints include playing both Sandy and Rizzo (not at the same time) in the Broadway production of “Grease.”  Among her other acting credits are television roles on “Chicago PD” and “Romance, Romance” (A&E).

Shindle portrays the adult Alison, searching for self-acceptance and understanding.  Shindle’s Broadway credits include Vivienne in Broadway’s “Legally Blonde,” Sally Bowles in “Cabaret,” and Hatter in “Wonderland.”  She has been seen in film and on television in “Lucky Stiff,” “Law and Order: SVU,” White Collar,” “Gossip Girl,” “The Stepford Wives,” and “Capote.” Shindle is also a longtime activist and author of “Being Miss America: Behind the Rhinestone Curtain.” Currently, she serves as the elected President of Actors’ Equity Association

The National Tour Company of Fun Home. Photo credit: Joan Marcus

The National Tour Company of Fun Home.
Photo credit: Joan Marcus

In addition to her 2015 Tony Awards for Best Book of a Musical and Best Score of a Musical for Fun Home, Kron is an accomplished playwright, most notably for “In The Wake,” “Well,”  and the Obie Award winning “2.5 Minute Ride.” Her acting credits include “Well” (Tony nomination for Best Actress) and “Good Person of Szechwan” (Lortel Award-Outstanding Featured Actress). She also serves on the boards of the MacDowell Colony, the Sundance Institute and on the Council of the Dramatists Guild of America.

Besides “Fun Home,” which critics consider her greatest triumph, Tesori’s major composer credits include “Violet,” “Caroline, or Change,” “Shrek the Musical,” “Thoroughly Modern Millie,” “Twelfth Night,” and John Guare’s “A Free Man of Color.” Tesori also wrote the score for “Mother Courage” starring Meryl Streep, which was performed at Central Park’s Delacorte Theater in Manhattan.

As a director, Gold’s Broadway credits include his Tony Award for “Fun Home,” as well as “The Glass Menagerie,” “A Doll’s House, Part 2,” “The Real Thing,” “The Realistic Joneses,” “Picnic,” and “Seminar.”

“Fun Home,a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, “ was named on all of the major top 10 lists including “The New York Times,” “Associated Press,” “New Yorker,” “Entertainment Weekly,” “BuzzFeed,” “The Daily Beast,” “Chicago Tribune,” and “The Hollywood Reporter,”

The musical also snagged 2015 Tony nominations for Best Scenic Design of Musical (David Zinn), Best Lighting Design of a Musical (Ben Stanton) and Best Orchestrations (John Clancy). In addition, the creative team includes Danny Mefford (Choreography), Kai Harada (Sound Design), David Zinn (Costume Design) and Chris Fenwick (Music Direction).

“Fun Home” runs through July 30 at 5th Avenue Theatre. Tickets start at $36 and are available at the 5th Avenue Box Office (206-625-1900), or online at www.5thavenue.org.

Further info from the 5th Avenue Theatre:

Every once in a while a Broadway musical comes along that surprises, moves and excites audiences in ways only a truly landmark musical can. The “groundbreaking,”1 “exquisite” and “unforgettable” new musical Fun Home was the event of the Broadway season, receiving raves from critics and audiences alike, winning five 2015 Tony Awards® including Best Musical and making history along the way. Based on Alison Bechdel’s best-selling graphic memoir, Fun Home introduces us to Alison at three different ages as she explores and unravels the many mysteries of her childhood. A refreshingly honest musical about seeing your parents through grown-up eyes, “Fun Home is extraordinary, a rare beauty that pumps fresh air into Broadway” (The New York Times). The Broadway production of Fun Home will make its Seattle premiere at The 5th Avenue Theatre as part of a major national tour.

Some shows deal with mature themes and may not be appropriate for all children. For information about whether a particular show is suitable for your child, we strongly encourage you to read the Content Advisories for each production. Children under 4, including babes in arms, will not be admitted.

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About Starla Smith

Starla Smith is a career journalist, writing features for such publications as The New Yorker, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Daily News, The Des Moines Register, Vibe and a prize-winning Gannett Newspaper. She helped launch Theater Week Magazine and eventually became its publisher. As a regular contributor to Playbill, her interviews and photos were featured in Playbill and Playbill-on-line. Smith was featured in the New York Times "Style" section for her "Word Portraits," specialized tributes, speeches, and presentation profiles. And she covered theater and features for City Search, Digital City, and the Tena Duberry WOW! Radio show. She previously served as astrology guru for Out Magazine, and she hastens to assure her readers that "Starla" is indeed her real name.

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