A Look Back at the Original Off-Broadway Company of Fun Home | Playbill

Special Features A Look Back at the Original Off-Broadway Company of Fun Home

Did you know the cast staged concert performances at the College of Charleston when legislators fought against the use of Alison Bechdel's graphic novel in school curriculum?

Beth Malone, Sydney Lucas and Alexandra Socha

The Tony-winning Best Musical Fun Home completed its Off-Broadway run at The Public Theater January 12, 2014. As the 10th anniversary and the Public's reunion concert approach, we're looking back at the original production, and checking in on where some of the cast is now. 

Fun Home began previews Off-Broadway at the Public September 30, 2013, and officially opened October 22, 2013. Adapted from Alison Bechdel's 2006 graphic memoir of the same name, the work features music by Jeanine Tesori, and a book and lyrics by Lisa Kron. Sam Gold directed the Off-Broadway run, and remained at the helm when the musical transferred to Broadway. 

The musical tracks Bechdel's journey of self-discovery from childhood as she comes to terms with her identity as a lesbian, as well as complicated family dynamics, particularly her relationship with her closeted father. 

The Off-Broadway cast featured Beth Malone as Alison Bechdel, Michael Cerveris as Bruce Bechdel, Judy Kuhn as Helen Bechdel, Sydney Lucas as Small Alison, Alexandra Socha as Medium Alison until Emily Skeggs took over the role in November 2013, Griffin Birney as Christian Bechdel, Noah Hinsdale as John Bechdel, Roberta Colindrez as Joan, and Joel Perez as Roy/Mark/Pete/Bobby Jeremy. 

The production received rave reviews, with some critics noting that while "gay men increasingly claim pride of place in musical theatre, gay women remain largely invisible there." The then-uncommon representation Fun Home offered, coupled with its soaring, dynamic score, captivated audiences. The run at the Public was extended four times, before making a Broadway transfer. 

Fun Home, the new musical by Tony nominees Jeanine Tesori and Lisa Kron, proved another hit for the Public Theater.

"Even musicals about women, where women are the central characters and not just a romantic lead and really have a story of their own [are rare]," Bechdel said in a 2013 Playbill interview. "The moment with Small Alison singing about the butch delivery woman feels huge. To have a child sing about desire and identification; it's brilliant."

READ: An Author's Life Comes to Life: Alison Bechdel on Fun Home

The progress Fun Home brought for queer women was not always met with support, though: in February 2014, South Carolina legislators approved a budget cut of over $50,000 from the College of Charleston after the school assigned the original graphic novel as summer reading material—one state representative went as far as to say the book could be "considered pornography." 

In response, the original Off-Broadway cast and members of the creative team reunited to stage two concert performances of Fun Home at the College of Charleston. At the time, a Broadway run was not yet confirmed. 

READ: Controversy Inspires Original Cast and Creators of Fun Home to Stage Concert Production at College of Charleston

Fun Home began Broadway previews at the Circle in the Square Theatre March 27, 2015, and officially opened April 19. Almost the entire original Off-Broadway cast transferred with the production, with Skeggs continuing as Medium Alison, and Oscar Williams and Zell Morrow stepping into the roles of Christian and John Bechdel, respectively. 

The musical would go on to win five Tony awards, including Best Musical, Best Direction for Gold, Best Actor for Cerveris, Best Book for Kron, and Best Score for Kron and Tesori. The latter two wins marked the first time an all-female writing team received both awards. The Broadway production closed September 10, 2016, after 26 previews and 582 regular performances.

Beth Malone was no stranger to the New York stage when Fun Home came around, having made her Broadway debut in Ring of Fire in 2006 and working Off-Broadway before and after. Malone received a Tony nomination for her performance, and appeared in Angels in America on Broadway shortly after. She's currently at work on her own new musical—Starstruck, an updated, queer Cyrano—co-written with Emily Saliers of the Indigo Girls and Mary Ann Stratton. 

READ: What Fun Home Star Beth Malone Learned Playing a Butch Lesbian

Fun Home is Michael Cerveris' most recent turn on the Broadway stage. Cerveris made his debut in The Who's Tommy in 1993, and took on some of musical theatre's most recognizable roles like the titular demon barber in the 2005 revival of Sweeney Todd, Perón in Evita, and John Wilkes Booth in Assassins, which earned him his first Tony award. Throughout 2023, Cerveris played several shows with his New Orleans-based band Loose Cattle, which will play Joe's Pub March 16. 

Broadway veteran and four-time Tony nominee Judy Kuhn joined the cast of the 2015 Fiddler on the Roof revival the month after Fun Home closed. Most recently, she played Mrs. Bogen in Classic Stage Company's I Can Get It for You Wholesale, alongside Santino Fontana, Adam Chanler-Berat, Rebecca Naomi Jones, Julia Lester, Joy Woods, and more.  

Fun Home fans may have spotted some familiar faces in the cameo-filled 2021 film adaptation of Tick, Tick...Boom!, which Lin-Manuel Miranda directed. Malone, Tesori, Kuhn, and Perez all appeared in the movie. 

In June 2023, an Audible adaptation of Bechdel's comic Dykes to Watch Out For was performed for one night only at the Minetta Lane Theatre Off-Broadway. Among the special guest performers was Roberta Colindrez, who was also seen recently in Amazon Prime's TV series adaptation of A League of Their Own

READ: After Fun Home, Alison Bechdel Is Introducing Dykes to Watch Out For to a New Generation

Much of the original cast and creative team will reunite January 8 to celebrate the 10th anniversary with two concert performances, held at 6:30 PM and 9:30 PM. 

Both concerts will feature Malone as Alison, Cerveris as Bruce, Kuhn as Helen, Skeggs as Medium Alison, and Colindrez as Joan. Perez will reprise his performance as Roy, Mark, Pete, and Bobby Jeremy at the 9:30 PM performance, with Perry Sherman (who was an understudy on Broadway) handling the 6:30 show. 

They will be joined by Colette Goodman as Small Alison, Jasper Burger as Christian, and Lincoln Cohen as John. Tesori, Kron, Gold, and music director Chris Fenwick will also be on hand for the event.

Proceeds will benefit LGBTQIA+ non-profit Outright International. In-person tickets for both performances are sold out, but live stream tickets are available here

New Musical Fun Home, With Judy Kuhn, Michael Cerveris and Alexandra Socha, Plays the Public Theater

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