“Fun Home” and “Curious Incident” Win Big at the Tony Awards

Alan Cumming and Kristin Chenoweth Host at Radio City Music Hall

alan cumming and kristin chenowethLast night, the 69th Annual Tony Awards took place at Radio City Music Hall, hosted by Alan Cumming and Kristin Chenoweth. After much excitement, the winners were revealed, amidst many gorgeous musical numbers performed by shows that were nominated, as well as by shows that received no nominations. At the end of the night, the final and most anticipated award was announced: Fun Home took home the Tony Award for Best Musical. Arguably the most prestigious and meaningful award among a list of huge honors, this award will ensure that Fun Home continues to run for at least another year if not many more. After transferring from the Off-Broadway Public Theater, Fun Home has been playing at the small Circle in the Square Theatre since March 27, 2015. Though it has been playing to sold out houses, it has not been reaching the top of its money earning potential. This past week, the week ending June 7, 2015, it made only 87.60% of its gross potential. That is sure to change immediately, as the tiny venue can only accommodate 776 people, by far the smallest house on Broadway. Time will tell whether the show will need to transfer to a larger venue to meet demand, or whether it will just become an extremely tough ticket.

Best Play, Best Revivals, Best Actors, and Best Directorscurious incident

The other very prestigious honor at the Tony Awards is that for Best Play, which was earned by The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time. Having transferred to Broadway from the National Theatre in London, this show took home 5 of the 6 awards for which it was nominated. In addition to Best Play, it won the awards for Best Direction of a Play for Marianne Elliott, Best Actor in a Leading Performance in a Play for Alex Sharp, Best Lighting Design of a Play for Paule Constable, and Best Scenic Design of a Play for Bunny Christie and Finn Ross. As for revivals, the award for Best Revival of a Play was earned by Skylight, which did not earn any of the other awards for which it was nominated. These include three acting awards, for Carey Mulligan, Bill Nighy, and Matthew Beard, none of whom took home an award for their performances, as well as the award for Best Direction, which Stephen Daldry lost to Marianne Elliott. The award for Best Revival of a Musical was given to The King and I. That show also earned the award for Best Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical, given to Kelli O’Hara. This is the sixth time this wonderful actress has been nominated for a Tony Award, and the first time that she won. The award for Best Actress in a Leading Role in a Play was given to Helen Mirren for The Audience, and the award for Best Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical was given to Michael Cerveris for Fun Home. Finally, Sam Gold took home the award for Best Direction of a Musical, also for Fun Home.

Writing and Composing Awards

fun homeWhereas the creators of straight plays are honored through the awards for Best Play and Best Revival of a Play, separate awards are given to the book writers, as well as the composers and lyricists, of musicals. These awards are in addition to the awards for Best Musical and Best Revival of a Musical, which are generally accepted by the producers. The award for Best Original Score was given to Jeanine Tesori and Lisa Kron, who wrote the music and lyrics respectively for Fun Home. The award for Best Book of a Musical was also given to Lisa Kron for Fun Home. Whereas this year the award for Best Musical served basically the same purpose as these two awards, sometimes the recipients do differ. In this case, the three separate honors proved irrefutably that Fun Home is the most exciting new musical of the year. Something Rotten!, which was the only show nominated for Best Musical not based on a previous work, was only recognized once, when Christian Borle took home the award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical. Still, that show was nominated for a total of ten awards, which is certainly no small honor. As for An American in Paris, which was considered to be the next most likely show to win Best Musical, it only took home the awards for Best Choreography for Christopher Wheeldon, as well as Best Orchestrations, Best Scenic Design, and Best Lighting Design, showing that the Tony voters ultimately considered it to be a beautiful ballet show, but not dramatically substantial enough to win the highest honor of the event.

“Fun Home” Begins Broadway Previews

A Tour de Force Transfer from the Public Theater

fun homeOn March 27, 2015, Fun Home began previews at the Circle in the Square Theatre. This new musical transferred to Broadway following a wildly successful run at the downtown Public Theater, the not-for-profit venue that is responsible for Shakespeare in the Park, among other successful Broadway transfers such as the recently announced Hamilton. The musical has a book by Lisa Kron, whose play Well played on Broadway in 2006, in which she also starred as a character based off of herself. Therefore, Fun Home is a departure for Kron, at least in terms of the fare we have seen on the Broadway stage, as it is a full scale musical and not intended to be autobiographical. Lisa Kron also wrote the lyrics for a score by Jeanine Tesori, who composed the music for Violet, A Free Man of Color, Shrek the Musical, Caroline, or Change, and Thoroughly Modern Millie. The show is directed by Sam Gold, the up and coming young director who made a huge splash Off-Broadway before directing a string of Broadway shows in recent years including Seminar, Picnic, The Realistic Joneses, and The Real Thing. This, however, is his first Broadway musical directing position.

Based Off The Graphic Novel by Alison Bechdelfun home

Lisa Kron and Jeanine Tesori collaborated on this musical adaptation, which is based off of a graphic novel by Alison Bechdel. The musical takes place in three time periods, which overlap non-linearly in the show. Over the course of the musical, the protagonist, Alison, is 43 years old (as the narrator), 19 years old (as an Oberlin student), and 8 years old (as a child in her father’s restored Victorian home). In her first year of college, Alison came out of the closet, identifying as a lesbian. Over the course of this fascinating interwoven tale, Alison explores connections between her family’s history and her coming out. For instance, her father was overbearing when she was a child, she witnessed her father having a sexual affair with a man, and when he ordered her to put on a dress, she disobeyed and wore jeans instead. Her father’s death also becomes a seminal moment in her life, as she reexamines the impact this has had on her own life. The way that the three stories are told out of order is artfully done, reinventing her own story through personal connections.

Excellent Buzz but So Far Mediocre Box Office

Following its slam dunk run at the Public Theater, Fun Home came to Broadway in a storm of buzz. However, this buzz may not have extended to the entire theatergoing public, and instead may be reserved for New York locals and diehard theatre aficionados. Therefore, the show has been holding on just barely at the box office. In the last reported week of box office figures, the week ending April 26, 2015, the show brought in $436,173, which represents just 59.33% of its gross potential. This is also the highest gross the show has seen thus far. The Circle in the Square Theatre is a very small Broadway venue, so it is difficult to make a large weekly gross, but still the show is having a difficult time even reaching the potential of that small venue. However, the Tony nominations may change that, as Fun Home has just been announced to have received an incredible 10, including Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical, Best Original Score, Best Direction of a Musical, Best Orchestration, three acting nominations, and two design nominations.

“Violet” Opens at the American Airlines Theatre

Sutton Foster has long been considered to have the potential to become one of the great musical theatre performers of our time.  Her big break occurred in 2002, when she was cast as the last minute replacement star of Thoroughly Modern Millie.  When the show transferred to Broadway, the consistently laudatory reviews and 2002 Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical proved that she had begun to pave her way to theatrical stardom.  Her most recent Broadway star turn was in the Roundabout Theatre Company’s 2011 revival of Cole Porter’s Anything Goes, where Sutton played Reno Sweeney and took home her second Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical.  Despite this success, however, Sutton had yet not proven her invincibility as a surefire star – until now, with the recently opened Roundabout Theatre Company production of Violet.


Violet CD ImageViolet
is the story of a young disfigured woman who travels from North Carolina to Oklahoma in search of healing treatment.  Based on the short story “The Ugliest Pilgrim” by Doris Betts, it has music by Jeanine Tesori (Thoroughly Modern Millie, Caroline or Change) and libretto by Brian Crawley (A Little Princess).  Violet first premiered Off-Broadway at Playwrights Horizons in 1997, receiving seven Drama Desk nominations and winning the Drama Critics’ Circle Award for Best Musical.  On July 17, 2013, the Encores! Off-Center Series at New York City Center mounted a one-night production of Violet, this time starring Sutton Foster in the title role.  The creative team at Roundabout must have been impressed by her performance, for they decided to bring the show to one of their Broadway houses, the American Airlines Theatre, for a run this spring to summer 2014.  The production is directed by Leigh Silverman (Chinglish, Well) and choreographed by Jeffrey Page (Fela!).

When the musical opened on April 20, 2014, it received unanimously positive reviews.  Charles Isherwood at The New York Times remarked that this was a “career-redefining performance.”  Whereas Sutton has often appeared in light-hearted musicals such as Thoroughly Modern Millie, The Drowsy Chaperone, and Anything Goes, here she takes a darker turn and embraces issues of self-delusion and in security.

sutton-foster-in-violet

sutton-foster-in-violet

Similarly, Time Out New York stated that this was the “darkest and richest” part that Sutton has ever played, congratulating her on her seamless ability to portray both the optimistic and bitterly anguished elements of her character.  NBC New York also observed that this performance of Sutton’s is “a star being reborn.”  Despite the low-key sets and less than elaborate spectacles involved with the production, critics far and wide praised the ambition and the seriousness of the storyline.

The musical is slated to run until August 10, 2014.  Although this is the first time the show has appeared on Broadway, it is still considered a “revival” for the purposes of Tony Award consideration.  This is not the only show this season to premiere on Broadway after having had an Off-Broadway production years ago; Hedwig and the Angry Inch is similarly considered a “revival” though this is the first time it has been on Broadway.