“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.

Vanessa Redgrave, Alan Alda Participate in Free Shakespeare Reading

Vanessa Redgrave

Vanessa Redgrave

Just as The Public Theater’s free-to-the-public Shakespeare in the Park season is getting started at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park next month, the Public will be offering another free Shakespeare-themed event. On June 17 at 8pm, they will be hosting “What Are We Worth? Shakespeare, Money, and Morals,” a Public Forum event that invites attendees to take part in a town hall-style discussion.

Moderated by Harvard professor Michael Sandel (author of What Money Can’t Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets), the conversation will be about the ways that the language of money directs our lives. The event, which will feature selected readings from Shakespeare plays, boasts the participation of many former and current Broadway stars, including Vanessa Redgrave, Alan Alda, Liev Schreiber, Raul Esparza, Jesse L. Martin, Lily Rabe, and Hamish Linklater.

“We are delighted to be partnering with the Aspen Institute and the brilliant Michael Sandel to create this lively and passionate evening,” stated Oskar Eustis, artistic director of the Public. “Shakespeare was writing at the birth of the modern economy, and his searing insights into money and value will be the perfect frame for this exhilarating event.”

“What Are We Worth?” tickets will be distributed for free at the Delacorte Theater at 12pm on June 17 (limit of 2 per person). There will also be some ticket distributed through an online ticket drawing. Visit shakespeareinthepark.org to learn more.

Shakespeare in the Park Announces Summer Season

Jesse Tyler Ferguson

Jesse Tyler Ferguson

The Public Theater has announced the two shows that will make up its free Shakespeare in the Park season this summer at Central Park’s Delacorte Theater. Unlike most seasons, which usually include one Shakespeare play along with another classic, this coming summer will boast two Shakespeare works: The Comedy of Errors and Love’s Labour’s Lost.

These comedies are among Shakespeare’s less often produced works. Directed by Daniel Sullivan, The Comedy of Errors will star two actors who often appear in Shakespeare in the Park productions: Jesse Tyler Ferguson (Modern Family) and Hamish Linklater (The New Adventures of Old Christine).

Love’s Labour’s Lost will offer a totally new spin on the original play. Titled Love’s Labour’s Lost, A New Musical, the production is adapted and directed by Alex Timbers with songs by Michael Friedman. Timbers and Friedman were among the team that brought the cult favorite Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson to Broadway recently. If Bloody Bloody is any indication, their take on Shakespeare is likely to be irreverent with a contemporary twist.

The Comedy of Errors will start performances on May 28 and conclude on June 30. Love’s Labour’s Lost is scheduled to begin on July 23, closing its run on August 18. As always, Shakespeare in the Park tickets are absolutely free.

Public Theater Hosts Block Party This Saturday

The Public Theater, the Off-Broadway theater company that is responsible for NYC’s annual Shakespeare in the Park and the recent hit Broadway revival of Hair, is celebrating the revitalization of its downtown home on Saturday, October 13 with an open house and block party out on Lafayette Street.  Following extensive renovations (to the tune of $40 million) that have vastly improved the Public’s multi-theater building at 425 Lafayette St., the famed New York City theater institution has been celebrating its revitalization.

The block party, which will be held from 12pm to 5pm on Saturday, will feature performances from many musicians associated with the Public’s music lounge, Joe’s Pub, such as Hair‘s Sasha Allen and legendary banjo player Tony Trischka.  There will also be ‘sneak peek’ presentations of musicals scheduled to be presented at the Public Theater soon, including Giant (Michael John LaChiusa / Sybille Pearson), The Total Bent (Stew / Heidi Rodewald), Fun Home (Jeanine Tesori / Lisa Kron), and Here Lies Love (David Byrne / Fatboy Slim).

Revelers at the block party will have plenty of eating options, as a number of popular New York City food trucks will be available, among them Go Burger, The Treats Truck, Gorilla Cheese, Rickshaw Dumplings, Valducci’s Pizza, and more.  Gourmet selections, along with drinks, will also be served in spaces throughout the Public Theater complex, giving people a chance to enjoy refreshments while checking out the renovations.

For more information on the festivities, visit www.publictheater.org.