Airline Highway on Broadway

Airline Highway, Lisa D’Amour’s loving look at the makeshift family of misfits that hang out at a seedy motel along the old Airline Highway in New Orleans, is not a musical, but it is full of music. The characters often break out into song — and the play itself seems a lesson in jazz.

There is a feel of improvisation, although everything is scripted. And, while the individual performers get their moments for solos, the play comes off as a collective composition of overlapping voices. The 16 performers work together so effectively in creating the community that hangs around the Hummingbird Motel, that they surely deserve a Tony Award for great ensemble acting.

Full review on DC Theatre Scene

Click on any photograph to see it enlarged

The Visit on Broadway with Chita Rivera

When the wealthiest woman in the world returns to her bankrupt hometown in The Visit, reactions range from “Her dress, her jewels…like a great film star!” to “half-Jewish, half-gypsy, 100% illegitimate: All her money won’t erase those stains” to “She’s come back to save us.” Audience reaction to Chita Rivera in the role is more uniform, welcoming back to Broadway the performer who originated such characters as Anita in West Side Story, Rosie in Bye Bye Birdie , Velma in Kander and Ebb’s Chicago, and Aurora in Kander and Ebb’s Kiss of the Spiderwoman.

Full review in DC Theatre Scene

Click on any photograph to see it enlarged

2015 Drama Desk Award Nominations: Hamilton, An American in Paris Most Nominated


Hamilton and An American in Paris received the most nominations for the 60th annual Drama Desk Awards, which honors achievement by professional theater artists on Broadway, Off-Broadway and Off-Off Broadway.

The Complete List:

Outstanding Play
Clare Barron, You Got Older
Lisa D’Amour, Airline Highway
Anthony Giardina, The City of Conversation
Stephen Adly Guirgis, Between Riverside and Crazy
Elizabeth Irwin, My Manãna Comes
Simon Stephens, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Jack Thorne, Let the Right One In

Outstanding Musical
An American in Paris
Fly by Night
Pretty Filthy
Something Rotten!
The Visit

Outstanding Revival of a Play
The Elephant Man
Fashions for Men
The Iceman Cometh
Tamburlaine the Great
The Wayside Motor Inn

Outstanding Revival of a Musical
Into the Woods
The King and I
On the Town
On the Twentieth Century
Side Show

Outstanding Actor in a Play
Reed Birney, I’m Gonna Pray For You So Hard
Bradley Cooper, The Elephant Man
Stephen McKinley Henderson, Between Riverside and Crazy
Ben Miles, Wolf Hall: Parts One & Two
Bill Pullman, Sticks and Bones
Alexander Sharp, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Outstanding Actress in a Play
Brooke Bloom, You Got Older
Kathleen Chalfant, A Walk in the Woods
Kristin Griffith, The Fatal Weakness
Jan Maxwell, The City of Conversation
Helen Mirren, The Audience
Carey Mulligan, Skylight
Tonya Pinkins, Rasheeda Speaking

Outstanding Actor in a Musical
Brian d’Arcy James, Something Rotten!
Robert Fairchild, An American in Paris
Jeremy Kushnier, Atomic
Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hamilton
Matthew Morrison, Finding Neverland
Ryan Silverman, Side Show

Outstanding Actress in a Musical
Kate Baldwin, John & Jen
Kristin Chenoweth, On the Twentieth Century
Leanne Cope, An American in Paris
Erin Davie, Side Show
Lisa Howard, It Shoulda Been You
Chita Rivera, The Visit

Outstanding Featured Actor in a Play
F. Murray Abraham, It’s Only a Play
Reed Birney, You Got Older
K. Todd Freeman, Airline Highway
Jonathan Hadary, Rocket to the Moon
Jason Butler Harner, The Village Bike
Jonathan Hogan, Pocatello
José Joaquin Perez, My Mañana Comes

Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play
Annaleigh Ashford, You Can’t Take It with You
Beth Dixon, The City of Conversation
Julie Halston, You Can’t Take It with You
Paola Lázaro-Muñoz, To the Bone
Lydia Leonard, Wolf Hall: Parts One & Two
Julie White, Airline Highway

Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical
Christian Borle, Something Rotten!
Peter Friedman, Fly by Night
Josh Grisetti, It Shoulda Been You
Andy Karl, On the Twentieth Century
Leslie Odom Jr., Hamilton
Brad Oscar, Something Rotten!
Max von Essen, An American in Paris

Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical
Carolee Carmello, Finding Neverland
Tyne Daly, It Shoulda Been You
Elizabeth A. Davis, Allegro
Renee Elise Goldsberry, Hamilton
Luba Mason, Pretty Filthy
Nancy Opel, Honeymoon in Vegas
Elizabeth Stanley, On the Town

Outstanding Director of a Play
Marianne Elliott, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Jeremy Herrin, Wolf Hall: Parts One & Two
Anne Kauffman, You Got Older
Lila Neugebauer, The Wayside Motor Inn
Austin Pendleton, Between Riverside and Crazy
Joe Tantalo, Deliverance
John Tiffany, Let the Right One In

Outstanding Director of a Musical
Carolyn Cantor, Fly by Night
Bill Condon, Side Show
John Doyle, The Visit
Thomas Kail, Hamilton
Casey Nicholaw, Something Rotten!
Christopher Wheeldon, An American in Paris

Outstanding Choreography
Joshua Bergasse, On the Town
Warren Carlyle, On the Twentieth Century
Steven Hoggett, The Last Ship
Austin McCormick, Rococo Rouge
Casey Nicholaw, Something Rotten!
Christopher Wheeldon, An American in Paris

Outstanding Music
Jason Robert Brown, Honeymoon in Vegas
Michael Friedman, The Fortress of Solitude
John Kander, The Visit
Dave Malloy, Ghost Quartet
Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hamilton
Sting, The Last Ship

Outstanding Lyrics
Jason Robert Brown, Honeymoon in Vegas
Fred Ebb, The Visit
Michael Friedman, The Fortress of Solitude
Karey Kirkpatrick & Wayne Kirkpatrick, Something Rotten!
Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hamilton
Benjamin Scheuer, The Lion

Outstanding Book of a Musical
Hunter Bell & Lee Overtree, Found
Karey Kirkpatrick & John O’Farrell, Something Rotten!
Craig Lucas, An American in Paris
Terence McNally, The Visit
Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hamilton
Kim Rosenstock, Will Connolly, & Michael Mitnick, Fly by Night

Outstanding Orchestrations
Christopher Austin, An American in Paris
Mary-Mitchell Campbell, Allegro
Larry Hochman, Something Rotten!
Alex Lacamoire, Hamilton
Rob Mathes, The Last Ship
Don Sebesky, Larry Blank, Jason Robert Brown, & Charlie Rosen, Honeymoon in Vegas

Outstanding Music in a Play
Cesar Alvarez, An Octoroon
Danny Blackburn & Bryce Hodgson, Deliverance
Sean Cronin, Kill Me Like You Mean It
Bongi Duma, Generations
Freddi Price, The Pigeoning
Arthur Solari & Jane Shaw, Tamburlaine the Great

Outstanding Revue
Forbidden Broadway Comes Out Swinging!
Just Jim Dale
Lennon: Through a Glass Onion
Lonesome Traveler

Outstanding Set Design
Bob Crowley, An American in Paris
Christine Jones, Let the Right One In
David Korins, Hamilton
Mimi Lien, An Octoroon
Scott Pask, The Visit
Daniel Zimmerman, Fashions for Men

Outstanding Costume Design
Bob Crowley, An American in Paris
Bob Crowley, The Audience
Christopher Oram, Wolf Hall: Parts One & Two
Paul Tazewell, Hamilton
Andrea Varga, The Fatal Weakness
Catherine Zuber, Gigi

Outstanding Lighting Design
Howell Binkley, Hamilton
Paule Constable, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Paule Constable & David Plater, Wolf Hall: Parts One & Two
Maruti Evans, Deliverance
Natasha Katz, The Iceman Cometh
Ben Stanton, Our Lady of Kibeho

Outstanding Projection Design
59 Productions, An American in Paris
Roger Hanna & Price Johnston, Donogoo
Darrel Maloney, Found
Peter Nigrini, Our Lady of Kibeho
Finn Ross, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Austin Switser, Big Love

Outstanding Sound Design in a Musical
Peter Hylenski, Side Show
Scott Lehrer, The King and I
Scott Lehrer & Drew Levy, Honeymoon in Vegas
Brian Ronan, The Last Ship
Nevin Steinberg, Hamilton
Jon Weston, An American in Paris

Outstanding Sound Design in a Play
Nathan Davis, The Other Mozart
Ien Denio, Deliverance
Ian Dickinson (for Autograph), The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Gareth Fry, Let the Right One In
John Gromada, Lives of the Saints
Matt Tierney, Our Lady of Kibeho

Outstanding Solo Performance
Christina Bianco, Application Pending
Jonny Donahoe, Every Brilliant Thing
Tom Dugan, Wiesenthal
Mona Golabek, The Pianist of Willesden Lane
Joely Richardson, The Belle of Amherst
Benjamin Scheuer, The Lion

Unique Theatrical Experience
Catch Me!
Everybody Gets Cake
The Human Symphony
Queen of the Night
A Rap Guide to Religion

Special Awards: Each year, the Drama Desk votes special awards to recognize excellence and significant contributions to the theater.

For 2014-15, these awards include the following:

This year the nominators chose to bestow a special award for outstanding ensemble to the actors who so brilliantly shared a room in the world of A.R. Gurney’s The Wayside Motor Inn: Kelly AuCoin, Jon DeVries, Quincy Dunn-Baker, Rebecca Henderson, Marc Kudisch, Jenn Lyon, Lizbeth Mackay, David McElwee, Ismenia Mendes, and Will Pullen.

To Bess Wohl, the Sam Norkin Off-Broadway Award: For establishing herself as an important voice in New York theater, and having a breakthrough year with the eclecticAmerican Hero, Pretty Filthy, and Small Mouth Sounds. Her writing expresses sensitivity, compassion, and humor with a sure hand.

To John Douglas Thompson: For invigorating theater in New York through his commanding presence, classical expertise, and vocal prowess. This season he demonstrated exceptional versatility in Tamburlaine the Great and The Iceman Cometh.

To Ensemble Studio Theatre: For its unwavering commitment to producing new works by American playwrights since 1968, and enriching this season with productions ofWhen January Feels Like Summer, Winners, and Five Times in One Night. EST’s Youngblood program fostered and nurtured Hand to God, setting Tyrone off on his devilish path to Broadway.

To Andy Blankenbuehler: For his inspired and heart-stopping choreography in Hamilton, which is indispensible to the musical’s storytelling. His body of work is versatile, yet a dynamic and fluid style is consistently evident. When it’s time to “take his shot,” Blankenbuehler hits the bull’s-eye.

The winners in the competitive categories will be announced on May 31 in a ceremony at Town Hall, with Laura Benanti as the host.



Nominations by Numbers
13 Hamilton
12 An American in Paris
9 Something Rotten!
7 The Visit
6 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
5 Honeymoon in Vegas
5 Side Show
5 Wolf Hall: Parts One & Two
4 Deliverance
4 Fly by Night
4 The Last Ship
4 Let the Right One In
4 On the Twentieth Century
4 You Got Older
2 Airline Highway
3 Between Riverside/Crazy
3 The City of Conversation
3 It Shoulda Been You
3 On the Town
3 Our Lady of Kibeho
2 Allegro
2 The Audience
2 The Elephant Man
2 Fashions for Men
2 The Fatal Weakness
2 Finding Neverland
2 The Fortress of Solitude
2 Found
2 The Iceman Cometh
2 The King and I
2 The Lion
2 My Mañana Comes
2 Pretty Filthy
2 Tamburlaine the Great
2 The Wayside Motor Inn
2 You Can’t Take It With You
1 Application Pending
1 Atomic
1 The Belle of Amherst
1 Big Love
1 Catch Me!
1 Donagoo
1 Everybody Gets Cake
1 Every Brilliant Thing
1 Forbidden Broadway Comes Out Swinging!
1 Generations
1 Ghost Quartet
1 Ghosts
1 Gigi
1 I’m Gonna Pray for You So Hard
1 The Human Symphony
1 Into the Woods
1 It’s Only a Play
1 John & Jen
1 Just Jim Dale
1 Lennon: Through a Glass Onion
1 Lonesome Traveler
1 Kill Me Like You Mean It
1 Lives of the Saints
1 An Octoroon
1 The Other Mozart
1 Pageant
1 The Pianist of Willesden Lane
1 The Pigeoning
1 Pocatello
1 Queen of the Night
1 The Rap Guide to Religion
1 Rasheeda Speaking
1 Rocket to the Moon
1 Rococo Rouge
1 Skylight
1 Sticks and Bones
1 To the Bone
1 The Village Bike
1 A Walk in the Woods
1 Wiesenthal

Something Rotten on Broadway

By the end of the show, despite the cleverness of its concept, Something Rotten as executed simply hasn’t added up to a completely satisfying musical. Its choreography seems too repetitive, its rock score sounds too generic, its tone is confused – as often peppy or sappy as subversive or satiric – and its plot is all over the place: Too much of what unfolds during its 150-minute running time feels like filler….Still, there are a whole host of amusing and inspired touches, the kind you might expect from a show directed and choreographed by Casey Nicholaw, who directed and choreographed both The Book of Mormon and Aladdin, and, ten years ago, choreographed Monty Python’s Spamalot.

Full review on DC Theatre Scene soon. Photographs below. Click on any to see them enlarged.

Doctor Zhivago on Broadway

I had hoped that a major benefit of winning the Cold War would be no longer having to sit through a show like Doctor Zhivago, a musical adaptation of Pasternak’s novel that presents the Russian Revolution largely as the story of a good-looking couple’s long-simmering adulterous affair and the mean Communists who get in their way. Doctor Zhivago does weave in a whirlwind tour of Russian history of the early twentieth century, but its heart seems to be in a different era – the Broadway of the 1980’s, when musicals were pseudo-operatic, self-serious and soapy, yet somehow ran forever.

Complete review on DC Theatre Scene. Photographs below (Click on any to see it enlarged.)

Watch #MakeItFair Video: Celebrity entertainers promote gender equality in the arts…and everywhere

Seventy women including Rita Wilson, Mamie Gummer and Kathleen Chalfant promote gender equality in the arts and entertainment through this three-minute #MakeItFair Video. (They sing at the end)

2015 Drama League Award Nominations

dramaleaguelogoBelow is the full list of the nominations for the 2015 Drama League Awards, which select winners in five competitive categories, and also give special awards. The winners will be announced Friday, May 15, 2015.

Although founded way back in 1922, this is the least regarded of the major New York theater awards because the voters are any audience members who join the Drama League, and because there is a single performing category (“distinguished performance”) with some 60 nominees but only one winner.


The Audience
By Peter Morgan
Directed by Stephen Daldry
Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre
Matthew Byam Shaw, Robert Fox, Andy Harries, Beverly Bartner, Scott M. Delman, Ed Mirvish Enterprises Limited, Stephanie P. McClelland, MSG WLE, Jon B. Platt, Scott Rudin, Carole Shorenstein Hays, The Shubert Organization, Alice Tulchin, producers

Between Riverside and Crazy
By Stephen Adly Guirgis
Directed by Austin Pendleton
Atlantic Theater Company/Second Stage Theatre
Atlantic Theatre Company: Neil Pepe, Artistic Director; Jeffory Lawson, Managing Director
Second Stage Theatre: Carole Rothman, Artistic Director; Casey Reitz, Executive Director, in association with Scott Rudin

By Robert O’Hara
Directed by Robert O’Hara
Playwrights Horizons
Tim Sanford, Artistic Director; Leslie Marcus, Managing Director; Carol Fishman, General Manager

By Nick Payne
Directed by Michael Longhurst
Manhattan Theatre Club/The Royal Court Theatre
Manhattan Theatre Club: Lynne Meadow, Artistic Director; Barry Grove, Executive Producer; The Royal Court Theatre: Vicky Featherstone, Artistic Director; Lucy Davies, Executive Producer; by special arrangement with Ambassador Theatre Group and the Dodgers

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
By Simon Stephens, based on the novel by Mark Haddon
Directed by Marianne Elliott
Ethel Barrymore Theatre
Stuart Thompson, Tim Levy for NT America, Warner Bros. Theatre Ventures, Nick Starr & Chris Harper for NT Productions, Bob Boyett, Roger Berlind, Scott M. Delman, Roy Furman, Glass Half Full Productions, Ruth Hendel, Jon B. Platt, Prime Number Group, Scott Rudin, Triple Play Broadway, and The Shubert Organization, producers

Hand to God
By Robert Askins
Directed by Moritz von Stuelpnagel
Booth Theatre
Kevin McCollum, Broadway Global Ventures, CMC, Morris Berchard, Mariano V. Tolentino Jr., Stephanie Kramer, LAMS Productions, DeSimone/Winkler, Joan Raffe & Jhett Tolentino, Timothy Laczynski, Lily Fan, Ayal Miodovnik, JAM Theatricals, Ensemble Studio Theatre: William Carden, Artistic Director; Paul A. Slee, Executive Director, and MCC Theater: Robert LuPone, Bernard Telsey, William Cantler, Artistic Director; Blake West, Executive Director, producers

An Octoroon
By Branden Jacobs-Jenkins
Directed by Sarah Benson
Soho Rep/Theatre for a New Audience
Soho Rep: Sarah Benson, Artistic Director; Cynthia Flowers, Executive Director in association with John Adrian Selzer; Theatre for a New Audience: Jeffrey Horowitz, Artistic Director; Dorothy Ryan, Managing Director

Punk Rock
By Simon Stephens
Directed by Trip Cullman
MCC Theater
Robert LuPone, Bernard Telsey, William Cantler, Artistic Directors; Blake West, Executive Director

Scenes from a Marriage
By Ingmar Bergman
Adapted by Emily Mann
Directed by Ivo van Hove
New York Theatre Workshop
James C. Nicola, Artistic Director; Jeremy Blocker, Managing Director

Wolf Hall, Parts One & Two
By Hilary Mantel, Adapted by Mike Poulton
Directed by Jeremy Herrin
Winter Garden Theatre
Jeffrey Richards, Jerry Frankel, Matthew Byam Shaw, Nia Janis & Nick Salmon for Playful Productions UK, Carole Shorenstein Hays, JAM Theatricals, Ron Kastner, Kyodo Tokyo, Inc., Tulchin Bartner Productions, WLE MSG, Jane Bergère, Scott M. Delman, Rebecca Gold, Just For Laughs Theatricals, Kit Seidel, Triple Play Productions, Gabrielle Palitz, Georgia Gatti, Jessica Genick, Will Trice and The Shubert Organization, producers; The Royal Shakespeare Company: Gregory Doran, Artistic Director; Catherine Mallyon, Executive Director


Big Love
By Charles Mee
Directed by Tina Landau
Signature Theatre Company
James Houghton, Founding Artistic Director; Erika Mallin, Executive Director

The Elephant Man
By Bernard Pomerance
Directed by Scott Ellis
Booth Theatre
James. L. Nederlander, Terry Allen Kramer, Catherine Adler, Roger Berlind, Caiola Productions, Patrick Catullo, Roy Furman, Larry Hirschhorn, Jeffrey Finn Productions, Van Kaplan, Edward M. Kaufmann, Hal Luftig, Arielle Tepper Madover, Peter May, Stephanie P. McClelland, The Shubert Organization, Douglas Smith, Jonathan M. Tisch, WLE MSG, LLC, Scott & Brian Zeilinger, producers; Williamstown Theatre Festival, Mandy Greenfield, Artistic Director; Stephen M. Kaus, Producer

The Heidi Chronicles
By Wendy Wasserstein
Directed by Pam MacKinnon
Music Box Theatre
Jeffrey Richards, Jerry Frankel, Susan Gallin, Mary Lu Roffe, Eagle Productions LLC, Stacy Jacobs, LTPS Productions, Gabrielle Palitz, Sally Horchow, Rebecca Gold, Ken Greiner, Grimaldi & WSProductions, Jamie deRoy & friends, Amy Kaissar, Suzanne Friedman, Ed Goldstone, Jessica Genick, Will Trice, producers

The Iceman Cometh
By Eugene O’Neill
Directed by Robert Falls
Brooklyn Academy of Music
BAM and Scott Rudin, producers; Joseph V. Melillo, Executive Producer; Karen Brooks Hopkins, President

It’s Only a Play
By Terrence McNally
Directed by Jack O’Brien
Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre
Tom Kirdahy, Roy Furman, Ken Davenport, Hunter Arnold, Morris Berchard and Susan Dietz, Caiola Productions, Carl Daikeler, Jim Fantaci, Wendy Federman, Barbara Freitag and Loraine Alterman Boyle, Hugh Hayes, Jim Herbert, Ricardo F. Hornos, Stephanie Kramer, LAMS Productions, Scott Landis, Mark Lee and Ed Filipowski, Harold Newman, Roy Putrino, Sanford Robertson, Tom Smedes and Peter Stern, and Brian Cromwell Smith, producers

By David Hare
Directed by Stephen Daldry
Golden Theatre
Robert Fox, Scott Rudin, Eli Bush, Roger Berlind, William Berlind, Roy Furman, Jon B. Platt, The Shubert Organization, Stephanie P. McClelland, Catherine Adler, Jay Alix & Una Jackman, Scott M. Delman, Heni Koenigsberg, Spring Sirkin, Stuart Thompson, True Love Productions, The Araca Group, Carlos Arana, David Mirvish, producers; Joey Parnes, Sue Wagner, John Johnson, executive producers

Tamburlaine, Parts I and II
By Christopher Marlowe
Edited and Directed by Michael Boyd
Theatre for a New Audience
Jeffrey Horowitz, Founding Artistic Director; Dorothy Ryan, Managing Director

This Is Our Youth
By Kenneth Lonergan
Directed by Anna D. Shapiro
Cort Theatre
Scott Rudin, Eli Bush, Roger Berlind, William Berlind, Jon B. Platt, Roy Furman, The Shubert Organization, Ruth Hendel, Scott M. Delman, Stephanie P. McClelland, Sonia Friedman, Tulchin Bartner, The Araca Group, Heni Koenigsberg, Daryl Roth, Joan Raffe & Jhett Tolentino, Catherine & Fred Adler, producers; Joey Parnes, Sue Wagner, John Johnson, executive producers

You Can’t Take It with You
By Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman
Directed by Scott Ellis
Longacre Theatre
Jeffrey Richards, Jerry Frankel, Jam Theatricals, Dominion Pictures, Gutterman & Winkler, Daryl Roth, Terry Schnuck, Jane Bergère, Caiola Productions, Rebecca Gold, Laruffa & Hinderliter, Larry Magid, Gabrielle Palitz, Spisto & Kierstead, Sunnyspot Productions, Venuworks Theatricals, Jessica Genick, Will Trice, producers, by special arrangement with Roundabout Theatre Company: Todd Haimes, Artistic Director; Harold Wolpert, Managing Director; Julia C. Levy, Executive Director; Sydney Beers, General Manager


An American in Paris
Music and Lyrics by George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin, Book by Craig Lucas
Directed by Christopher Wheeldon
Palace Theatre
Stuart Oken, Van Kaplan, Roy Furman, Stephanie P. McClelland, Darren Bagert, Carole L. Haber, James Nederlander, Five Cent Productions, Michael Leavitt, Apples and Oranges Studios/Dominion Pictures, Roger Berlind/Arch Road, Simone Genatt Haft/Marc Routh, Triptyk Studios/Spencer Ross, Ed Walson/Pater May, Adam Zotovich/Celia Atkin, Eugene Beard/Julie Boardman/Kallish-Weinstein, Stuart Ditsky/Jim Herbert/Sandy Robertson, Suzanne Friedman/Independent Presenters Network/Wonderful Productions, The Leonore S. Gershwin 1987 Trust/Jenkins-Taylor/Proctors, Harriet Newman Leve/Jane Dubin/Sarahbeth Grossman, Caiola Productions/Jennifer Isaacson/Raise the Curtain, producers, by special arrangement with Elephant Eye Theatrical & Pittsburgh CLO and Théâtre du Châtelet

Finding Neverland
Book by James Graham, Music and Lyrics by Gary Barlow and Eliot Kennedy
Directed by Diane Paulus
Lunt-Fontanne Theatre
Weinstein Live Entertainment, The Madison Square Garden Company, Len Blavatnik, Ron Burkle, Radenko Milakovic, Bryan Cranston, Jason Blum, Broadway Across America, Stephen Bronfman, Rodgin Cohen, Michael Cohl, Jean Doumanian, Chad Dubea, Rick Gerson, Jeremiah J. Harris, Sh. Mohammed Y. El Khereiji, Terry Allen Kramer, Howard Milstein, Nederlander Presentations, Inc., Dalip Pathak, Marvin Peart, Steve Rattner, Jimmy Sommers, Peter Stavola and the American Repertory Theater, producers

Fun Home
Music by Jeanine Tesori, Book and Lyrics by Lisa Kron
Directed by Sam Gold
Circle in the Square Theatre
Fox Theatricals, Barbara Whitman, Carole Shorenstein Hays, Tom Casserly, Paula Marie Black, Latitude Link, Terry Schnuck/Jack Lane, The Forstalls, Nathan Vernon, Mint Theatricals, Elizabeth Armstrong, Jam Theatricals, Delman Whitney, Kristin Caskey & Mike Isaacson, producers; The Public Theater: Oskar Eustis, Artistic Director; Patrick Willingham, Executive Director

Ghost Quartet
Music, Lyrics, and Text by Dave Malloy
Directed by Annie Tippe
The McKittrick Hotel
Emursive: Arthur Karpati, Jonathan Hochwald, and Randy Weiner, producers

Book, Music and Lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda
Directed by Thomas Kail
The Public Theater
Oskar Eustis, Artistic Director; Patrick Willingham, Managing Director; with the support of Jeffrey Seller, Sander Jacobs and Jill Furman

It Shoulda Been You
Book and Lyrics by Brian Hargrove, Music and Concept by Barbara Anselmi
Directed by David Hyde Pierce
Brooks Atkinson Theatre
Daryl Roth, Scott Landis, Jane Bergère, Jayne Baron Sherman, Patty Baker, Broadway Across America, Clear Channel Spectacolor, Gloken LLC, James L. Nederlander, John O’Boyle, Judith Ann Abrams/Jacki Barila Florin, producers

Something Rotten!
Book by Karey Kirkpatrick and John O’Farrell, Music and Lyrics by Wayne Kirkpatrick and Karey Kirkpatrick
Directed by Casey Nicholaw
St. James Theatre
Kevin McCollum, Broadway Global Ventures, CMC, Dennis Mastro, Jerry Frankel, Morris Berchard, Kyodo Tokyo Inc., Wendy Federman, Barbara Freitag, LAMS Productions, Winkler/DeSimone, Timothy Laczynski, Dan Markley, JAM Theatricals, Robert Greenblatt, and Jujamcyn Theaters, producers

The Visit
Book by Terrence McNally, Music by John Kander, Lyrics by Fred Ebb
Directed by John Doyle
Lyceum Theatre
Tom Kirdahy, Edgar Bronfman, Jr., Tom Smedes, Hugh Hayes, Peter Stern, Judith Ann Abrams, Rich Affannato, Hunter Arnold, Carl Daikeler, Ken Davenport, Bharat Mitra & Bhavani Lev, Peter May, Ted Snowdon, Gabrielle Palitz/Weatherby & Fishman LLC, Marguerite Hoffman/Jeremy Youett, Carlos Arana/Terry Loftis, Veenerick & Katherine Vos Van Liempt, 42nd Club/Silva Theatrical and The Shubert Organization, producers, in association with The Williamstown Theatre Festival: Mandy Greenfield, Artistic Director; Stephen M. Kaus, Producer


Music by Richard Rodgers
Book and Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II
Directed by John Doyle
Classic Stage Company
Brian Kulick, Artistic Director; Jeff Griffin, Managing Director; Greg Reiner, Executive Director

Into the Woods
Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, Book by James Lapine
Directed by Noah Brody and Ben Steinfeld
Roundabout Theatre Company
Todd Haimes, Artistic Director; Harold Walpert, Managing Director; Julia C. Levy, Executive Director; Sydney Beers, General Manager
In association with McCarter Theatre Center: Emily Mann, Artistic Director; Timothy J. Shields, Managing Director

The King and I
Music by Richard Rodgers
Book and Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II
Directed by Bartlett Sher
Lincoln Center Theatre
André Bishop, Artistic Director; Adam Siegel, Managing Director; Hattie K. Jutagir, Executive Director of Development and Planning; in association with Ambassador Theatre Group; with gratitude to the Stacey and Eric Mindich Fund for Musical Theater

On The Town
Music by Leonard Bernstein, Book and Lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green
Directed by John Rando
Lyric Theatre
Howard and Janet Kagan, Severn Partners Entertainment, Bruce Robert Harris and Jack W. Batman, Paula Marie Black, Nigel Lythgoe, Michael J. Moritz, Jr., Mahoney/Alden/Badway, Ambassador Theatre Group, Margie and Bryan Weingarten, Kim Schall, Michael Rubenstein, Terry/Louise/Chris Lingner, Brunish & Trinchero, Stephanie Rosenberg, Laruffa & Hinderliter, Rubinstein/Handelman, A&A Gordon, Matt Ross/Ben Feldman/Pamela Cooper, and Barrington Stage Company, producers

On The Twentieth Century
Book and Lyrics by Better Comden and Adolph Green, Music by Cy Coleman
Directed by Scott Ellis
Roundabout Theatre Company
Todd Haimes, Artistic Director; Harold Wolpert, Managing Director; Julia C. Levy, Executive Director; Sydney Beers, General Manager


One winner is selected from this category. The recipient can only receive this award once during his or her career.
Usman Ally, The Invisible Hand
Christian Borle, Something Rotten!
Steven Boyer, Hand to God
Sterling K. Brown, Father Comes Home from the Wars Parts 1, 2 & 3
Michael Cerveris, Fun Home
Kristin Chenoweth, On The Twentieth Century
Bradley Cooper, The Elephant Man
Leanne Cope, An American in Paris
Jim Dale, Just Jim Dale
Tyne Daly, It Shoulda Been You
Daveed Diggs, Hamilton
Robert Fairchild, An American in Paris
Renee Fleming, Living on Love
Kelsey Grammer, Finding Neverland
Jake Gyllenhaal, Constellations
Stephen McKinley Henderson, Between Riverside and Crazy
Lisa Howard, It Shoulda Been You
Brian D’Arcy James, Something Rotten!
Rebecca Naomi Jones, Big Love
Cush Jumbo, Josephine and I, The River
Andy Karl, On The Twentieth Century
Judy Kuhn, Fun Home
Lesley Manville, Ghosts
Jan Maxwell, The City of Conversation
Richard McCabe, The Audience
Rob McClure, Honeymoon in Vegas
Ewan McGregor, The Real Thing
Ben Miles, Wolf Hall, Parts One & Two
Ruthie Ann Miles, The King and I
Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hamilton
Helen Mirren, The Audience
Matthew Morrison, Finding Neverland
Elisabeth Moss, The Heidi Chronicles
Carey Mulligan, Skylight
Tam Mutu, Doctor Zhivago
Bill Nighy, Skylight
Kelli O’Hara, The King and I
Nathaniel Parker, Wolf Hall, Parts One & Two
Bryce Pinkham, The Heidi Chronicles
Roger Rees, The Visit
Chita Rivera, The Visit
Alexander Sharp, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Douglas Sills, Living on Love
John Douglas Thompson, Tamburlaine, Parts I and II, The Iceman Cometh
Julie White, Airline Highway
Ruth Wilson, Constellations
Tony Yazbeck, On The Town

The Drama League also wishes to acknowledge the previous recipients of the Distinguished Performance Award who appeared in New York productions this season. As the Award can only be won once in a performer’s lifetime, they are ineligible this season. Their exemplary work, however, is recognized and applauded.

Kathleen Chalfant, A Walk in the Woods
Stockard Channing, It’s Only A Play
Glenn Close, A Delicate Balance
Rosemary Harris, Indian Ink
Hugh Jackman, The River
Cherry Jones, When We Were Young and Unafraid
James Earl Jones, You Can’t Take It With You
Nathan Lane, The Iceman Cometh, It’s Only A Play
John Lithgow, A Delicate Balance, King Lear

Distinguished Achievement in Musical Theatre

Joel Grey

Unique Contribution to the Theatre

WNET: Neal Shapiro and David Horn

Founders Award for Excellence in Directing

Stephen Daldry

2015 Pulitzer Prize for Drama: Between Riverside and Crazy,by Stephen Adly Guirguis

Between Riverside and Crazy by Stephen Adly Guirguis has won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama,

In another one of Stephen Adly Guirguis’s quintessential plays about New Yorkers on the margins and on edge, the great Stephen McKinley Henderson portrays a disabled, bitter ex-cop and recent widower living in a rent controlled apartment on the Upper West Side, who’s assembled a kind of extended family of deeply credible characters, who in their own struggles are a mix of sympathetic and not wholly trustworthy. Henderson, previously known as a character actor and one of the foremost interpreters of August Wilson, here comes into his own, and the rest of the seven-member cast couldn’t be better.

The play originally appeared at the Atlantic Theater, and was presented again at Second Stage.

The playwright’s official biography:

Stephen Adly Guirgis is a member and former co-artistic director of LAByrinth Theater Company. His plays have been produced on five continents and throughout the United States. They include Our Lady of 121st Street (Drama Desk, Lucille Lortel, Outer Critics Circle Best Play Nominations), Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train(Edinburgh Festival Fringe First Award, Barrymore Award, Olivier Nomination for London’s Best New Play), In Arabia, We’d All Be Kings (2007 LA Drama Critics Best Play, Best Writing Award), The Last Days of Judas Iscariot (10 best TimeMagazine & Entertainment Weekly), and The Little Flower of East Orange (with Ellen Burstyn & Michael Shannon). All five plays were directed by Philip Seymour Hoffman and were originally produced by LAByrinth.

His most recent play, Between Riverside and Crazy, recently completed a sold-out run at Atlantic Theater Company, and will transfer to Second Stage Theatre in 2015. His 2011 play, The Motherf***er with the Hat (6 Tony nominations, including Best Play), was directed by Anna D. Shapiro and marked his third consecutive world premiere co-production with The Public Theater and LAByrinth.

In London, his plays have premiered at The Donmar Warehouse, The Almeida (dir: Rupert Goold), The Hampstead (Robert Delamere), and at The Arts Theater in the West End. Other plays include Den of Thieves (Labyrinth, HERE, HAI, Black Dahlia) and Dominica The Fat Ugly Ho (dir: Adam Rapp) for the 2006 E.S.T. Marathon. He has received the Yale Wyndham-Campbell Prize, a PEN/Laura Pels Award, a Whiting Award, and a TCG fellowship. He is also a New Dramatists Alumnae and a member of MCC’s Playwright’s Coalition, The Ojai Playwrights Festival, New River Dramatists, and Labyrinth Theater Company.

As an actor, he has appeared in theater, film and television, including roles in Kenneth Lonergan’s film “Margaret”, Todd Solondz’s “Palindromes,” and Brett C Leonard’s “Jailbait” opposite Michael Pitt.

A former violence prevention specialist and H.I.V. educator, he lives in New York City.


The play was chosen from some 100 entries, by a jury consisting of:

Dominic P. Papatola, theater critic, St. Paul Pioneer Press (Chair)
Misha Berson, drama critic, The Seattle Times
Elysa Gardner, entertainment critic, USA Today
Lynn Nottage, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, New York, NY
Marc Robinson, professor of English and theater studies, Yale University

2015 finalists:

Father Comes Home from the Wars (Parts 1, 2, 3) by Suzan-Lori ParksA distinctive and lyrical epic about a slave during the Civil War that deftly takes on questions of identity, power and freedom with a blend of humor and dignity.

Marjorie Prime by Jordan HarrisonA sly and surprising work about technology and artificial intelligence told through images and ideas that resonate.

Previous winners:

2014: The Flick by Annie Baker
2013: Disgraced by Ayad Akhtar
2012: Water By the Spoonful by Quiara Alegria Hudes
2011: Clybourne Park by Bruce Norris
2010: Next to Normal by Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey
2009: Ruined, by Lynn Nottage
2008: August: Osage County, by Tracy Letts
2007: Rabbit Hole, by David Lindsay-Abaire
2006: No award
2004-05: Doubt, by John Patrick Shanley
2003-04: I Am My Own Wife, by Doug Wright
2002-03: Anna in the Tropics, by Nilo Cruz
2001-02: Topdog/Underdog, by Suzan-Lori Parks
2000-01: Proof, by David Auburn
1999-00: Dinner with Friends, by Donald Margulies
1998-99: Wit, by Margaret Edson
1997-98: How I Learned To Drive, by Paula Vogel
1996-97: No award
1995-96: Rent, by Jonathan Larson
1994-95: The Young Man From Atlanta, by Horton Foote
1993 94: Three Tall Women, by Edward Albee
1992-93: Angels in America: Millennium Approaches, by Tony Kushner
1991-92: The Kentucky Cycle, by Robert Schenkkan
1990-91: Lost in Yonkers, by Neil Simon
1989-90: The Piano Lesson, by August Wilson
1988-89: The Heidi Chronicles, by Wendy Wasserstein
1987 88: Driving Miss Daisy, by Alfred Uhry
1986-87: Fences, by August Wilson
1985-86: No award
1984-85: Sunday in the Park With George, by James Lapine and Stephen Sondheim
1983-84: Glengarry Glen Ross, by David Mamet
1982-83: ‘night, Mother, by Marsha Norman
1981 82: A Soldier’s Play, by Charles Fuller
1980-81: Crimes of the Heart, by Beth Henley
1979-80: Talley’s Folly, by Lanford Wilson
1978-79: Buried Child, by Sam Shepard
1977-78: The Gin Game, by D.L. Coburn
1976-77: The Shadow Box, by Michael Cristofer
1975-76: A Chorus Line, by Michael Bennett, James Kirkwood, Nicholas Dante, Marvin Hamlisch and Edward Kleban
1974-75: Seascape, by Edward Albee
1973 74: No award
1972-73: That Championship Season, by Jason Miller
1971-72: No award
1970-71: The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds, by Paul Zindel
1969-70: No Place To Be Somebody, by Charles Gordone
1968-69: The Great White Hope, by Howard Sackler
1967-68: No award
1966-67: A Delicate Balance, by Edward Albee
1965-66: No award
1964 65: The Subject Was Roses, by Frank D. Gilroy
1963-64: No award
1962-63: No award
1961-62: How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, by Abe Burrows and Frank Loesser
1960-61: All the Way Home, by Tad Mosel
1959-60: Fiorello!, by Jerome Weidman, George Abbott, Sheldon Harnick and Jerry Bock
1958-59: J.B., by Archibald MacLeish
1957-58: Look Homeward, Angel, by Ketti Frings
1956-57: Long Day’s Journey Into Night, by Eugene O’Neill
1955-56: The Diary of Anne Frank, by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett
1954-55: Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, by Tennessee Williams
1953-54: The Teahouse of the August Moon, by John Patrick
1952-53: Picnic, by William Inge
1951-52: The Shrike, by Joseph Kramm
1950-51: No award
1949-50: South Pacific, by Richard Rodgers, Oscar Hammerstein II and Joshua Logan
1948-49: Death of a Salesman, by Arthur Miller
1947-48: A Streetcar Named Desire, by Tennessee Williams
1946-47: No award
1945-46: State of the Union, by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse
1944-45: Harvey, by Mary Chase
1943-44: No award
1942-43: The Skin of Our Teeth, by Thornton Wilder
1941-42: No award
1940-41: There Shall Be No Night, by Robert E. Sherwood
1939-40: The Time of Your Life, by William Saroyan
1938-39: Abe Lincoln in Illinois, by Robert E. Sherwood
1937-38: Our Town, by Thornton Wilder
1936-37: You Can’t Take It With You, by Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman
1935-36: Idiot’s Delight, by Robert E. Sherwood
1934-35: The Old Maid, by Zoe Akins
1933-34: Men in White, by Sidney Kingsley
1932-33: Both Your Houses, by Maxwell Anderson
1931-32: Of Thee I Sing, by George S. Kaufman, Morrie Ryskind and Ira Gershwin
1930-31: Alison’s House, by Susan Glaspell
1929-30: The Green Pastures, by Marc Connelly
1928-29: Street Scene, by Elmer Rice
1927-28: Strange Interlude, by Eugene O’Neill
1926-27: In Abraham’s Bosom, by Paul Green
1925-26: Craig’s Wife, by George Kelly
1924-25: They Knew What They Wanted, by Sidney Howard
1923-24: Hell-Bent fer Heaven, by Hatcher Hughes
1922-23: Icebound, by Owen Davis
1921-22: Anna Christie, by Eugene O’Neill
1920-21: Miss Lulu Bett, by Zona Gale
1919-20: Beyond the Horizon, by Eugene O’Neill
1918-19: No award
1917-18: Why Marry?, by Jesse Lynch Williams
1916-17: No award

2015 Outer Critics Circle Nominations: Something Rotten, On The 20th Century Lead.


Something Rotten and On The Twentieth Century received the most nominations for the 65th annual Outer Critics Circle awards. Winners will be announced Monday, May 11th.


The Audience

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Wolf Hall



An American in Paris

It Shoulda Been You

The Last Ship

Something Rotten! (hasn’t opened yet)

The Visit (hasn’t opened yet)



Between Riverside and Crazy

The City of Conversation

The Nether

Rasheeda Speaking

The Village Bike



A Christmas Memory


The Fortress of Solitude


Lonesome Traveler



(Broadway or Off-Broadway)


It Shoulda Been You

The Last Ship

Something Rotten!

The Visit



(Broadway or Off-Broadway)


It Shoulda Been You

The Last Ship

Something Rotten!

The Visit



(Broadway or Off-Broadway)

The Elephant Man

Fashions for Men

The Heidi Chronicles


You Can’t Take It With You



(Broadway or Off-Broadway)

Into the Woods

The King and I

On the Town

On the Twentieth Century

Side Show



Stephen Daldry    The Audience

Marianne Elliott    The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Scott Ellis   The Elephant Man

Scott Ellis    You Can’t Take It With You

Jeremy Herrin    Wolf Hall



Scott Ellis    On the Twentieth Century

Thomas Kail    Hamilton

Casey Nicholaw    Something Rotten!

David Hyde Pierce    It Shoulda Been You

Christopher Wheeldon    An American in Paris



Joshua Bergasse   On the Town

Andy Blankenbuehler    Hamilton

Warren Carlyle    On the Twentieth Century

Casey Nicholaw    Something Rotten!

Christopher Wheeldon    An American in Paris



(Play or Musical)

Bunny Christie    The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Bob Crowley    An American in Paris

Scott Pask    Something Rotten!

David Rockwell    On the Twentieth Century

Michael Yeargan    The King and I



(Play or Musical)

Gregg Barnes    Something Rotten!

Bob Crowley    The Audience

William Ivey Long    On the Twentieth Century

Christopher Orem    Wolf Hall

Catherine Zuber    The King and I



(Play or Musical)
Paule Constable    The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Jeff Croiter     Something Rotten!

Rick Fisher     The Audience

Natasha Katz     An American in Paris

Japhy Weideman    The Visit



Reed Birney    I’m Gonna Pray For You So Hard

Bradley Cooper    The Elephant Man

Stephen McKinley Henderson    Between Riverside and Crazy

Ben Miles    Wolf Hall

Alex Sharp    The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time



Greta Gerwig     The Village Bike

Jan Maxwell    The City of Conversation

Helen Mirren    The Audience

Elisabeth Moss    The Heidi Chronicles

Tonya Pinkins    Rasheeda Speaking



Christian Borle    Something Rotten!

Brian d’Arcy James    Something Rotten!

Robert Fairchild    An American in Paris

Peter Gallagher    On the Twentieth Century

Tony Yazbeck    On the Town



Kristin Chenoweth    On the Twentieth Century

Leanne Cope    An American in Paris

Tyne Daly    It Shoulda Been You

Kelli O’Hara    The King and I

Chita Rivera    The Visit



Paul Jesson     Wolf Hall

Richard McCabe   The Audience

Alessandro Nivola   The Elephant Man

Nathaniel Parker    Wolf Hall

Bryce Pinkham     The Heidi Chronicles



Annaleigh Ashford   You Can’t Take It With You

Patricia Clarkson   The Elephant Man

Francesca Faridany   The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Julie Halston   You Can’t Take It With You

Lydia Leonard   Wolf Hall



John Cariani   Something Rotten!

Josh Grisetti   It Shoulda Been You

Andy Karl   On the Twentieth Century

Paul Alexander Nolan   Doctor Zhivago

Max von Essen   An American in Paris



Heidi Blickenstaff   Something Rotten!

Victoria Clark   Gigi

Megan Fairchild   On the Town

Ruthie Ann Miles    The King and I  

Mary Louise Wilson   On the Twentieth Century



Joe Assadourian     The Bullpen

Jim Dale    Just Jim Dale

Tom Dugan    Wiesenthal

Cush Jumbo    Josephine and I

Benjamin Scheuer    The Lion



(Presented for an American play, preferably by a new playwright)

Ayad Akhtar     The Invisible Hand

Halley Feiffer     I’m Gonna Pray For You So Hard

Elizabeth Irwin     My Mañana Comes

Markus Potter     Stalking the Bogeyman

Benjamin Scheuer     The Lion


Nominations Talley for 3 or more:

 Something Rotten! 12; On the Twentieth Century 9; An American in Paris 8; Wolf Hall 7; It Shoulda Been You

 6; The Audience 6; The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time 6; Hamilton 5; The Elephant Man 5; The King and I 5; The Visit 5; On The Town 4; You Can’t Take It With You 4; The Heidi Chronicles 3; The Last Ship 3

Please note: Disgraced, Fun Home and Hand to God received nominations and or awards from Outer Critics Circle in previous seasons when they were Off-Broadway and therefore were not considered for this year.

The Outer Critics Circle is an organization of writers and commentators covering New York theater for out-of-town newspapers, national and online publications. I am a member of the Outer Critics Circle and will be voting on these awards.

Fun Home on Broadway

Fun Home Circle in the Square Theatre

Sydney Lucas as Small Alison and Michael Cerveris as her father“My Dad and I both grew up in the same small Pennsylvania town

“My Dad and I both grew up in the same small Pennsylvania town. And he was gay and I was gay,” Alison explains in the remarkable musical Fun Home.  “And he killed himself, and I … became a lesbian cartoonist.”

Those are the bare facts of Alison Bechdel’s childhood, which she turned into a celebrated graphic memoir in 2006, and which was adapted for the stage by playwright Lisa Kron and composer Jeanine Tesori – begun at the Public Theater in 2013 and now transferred to Broadway. Alison’s monologue offers a swift summation of the story. What makes the musical extraordinary goes beyond that story.

Below are the photographs from the Broadway production, which has three new performers in its nine-member cast, and is staged in the Circle in the Square, a theater in the round.  And below that is my review of the Off-Broadway production. (I am seeing the show on Broadway later this week.)

Click on any photographs to see them enlarged.

In one of the first scenes of the show,  Alison’s father Bruce, portrayed splendidly (as usual) by Michael Cerveris, is rummaging through a box a neighbor gave him of items that the neighbor considered junk. Bruce knows they are treasures – that old piece of cloth is gorgeous Irish linen; that tarnished teapot is silver:

This has traveled continents to get here and crossed an ocean of time
And somehow landed in this box under a layer of grime

It’s a fitting metaphor for the show itself, especially when we simultaneously see Alison as an adult looking through a clone of the same box with the same tarnished teapot – for her an act of memory…and part of the puzzle she is trying to figure out, the puzzle of her childhood. The makers of the musical recognize and reveal just how precious the seemingly tarnished real-life story of Alison Bechdel’s family. “Fun Home” is a work of theater that is inventive, entertaining, in places exhilarating, and almost inexpressibly heartbreaking.

There is always a danger in praising a show too exuberantly, for it raises expectations. But Bechdel’s novel has withstood such praise — Time Magazine called it the best book of the year – and continues to gain adherents. Fun Home the musical is different from the book in tone and in some of its characterizations and details, but, in its own way, it is just as startling, and groundbreaking.

Bruce Bechdel was a small town high school English teacher, as well as a funeral director, inheriting his father’s funeral home, which his family called the Fun Home. We see why, when Alison at age 8 (“Small Alison,” portrayed by Sydney Lucas) uses the parlor as a playground, playing hide and seek in the caskets with her two brothers, and together singing “Come To The Fun Home,” a rousing rock mock commercial for their funeral home:
You know our mourners–
So satisfied
They like, they like, they like
our formaldehyde
(In what other musical will you hear “psalm” rhymed with “embalm”?)

Bruce was also an obsessive restorer of old homes, most notably the family house — a huge mansion that he bought for a song because it was so run-down.  This too could be called the Fun Home, although ironically, since Alison always suspected Bruce saw his family primarily as free labor. There are layers upon layers of such irony in the musical, all the more effective because they are applied with a subtle brush.

Three different actresses portray Alison at different stages of her life – Small Alison at 8 (Lucas), Medium Alison at 19, and the 43-year-old Alison of the present day (Beth Malone.) I’ve never seen this done better. Even their hair is precisely on target – the cascading curls of the little child, who resists her father’s insistence that she wear a barrette to keep the hair out of her eyes, while she would prefer just to get a crew cut (even then she knew); the unflattering mop-top of the teenager, away at college and awkwardly exploring her sexuality; the efficient short hairstyle (not quite a crew cut) of the middle-aged adult, watching her past, drawing it, and searching for just the right captions.

Alison celebrates her coming out in college with the ecstatic, hilarious song Changing My Major

 I’m changing my major to Joan
 I’m changing my major to sex with Joan
 I’m changing my major to sex with Joan with a minor in kissing Joan

It is only when she writes a letter home coming out to her parents that she learns about her father’s own, secret sexual orientation. She hears it from her mother Helen (portrayed with restraint and depths of feeling by Judy Kuhn.) Four months later, Bruce commits suicide.

This doesn’t sound like “Annie,” nor even “Matilda.” Its darkness feels for real; its unconventionality uncomfortable; its sadness unspeakable, much less singable. It is a testament to the talent poured into this musical — by Bechdel herself, her adaptors, the always-impressive director Sam Gold, and the show’s flawless nine-member cast — that “Fun Home” is, among its many other qualities, actually fun.

Fun Home songlist
It All Comes Back (Opening) – Full Cast
Welcome To Our House on Maple Avenue – Helen, Small Alison, John, Christian, Bruce
Come To The Fun Home – Small Alison, John, Christian
Helen’s Etude – Helen, Bruce, Roy, Small Alison, John, Christian
Al For Short – Small Alison
Changing My Major – Medium Alison
Maps – Bruce, Medium Alison
Raincoat of Love – Full Cast
Pony Girl – Bruce
Ring of Keys – Small Alison
Days and Days – Helen
Telephone Wire – Bruce, Alison
Edges of the World – Bruce
Flying Away (Finale) – Alison, Small Alison, Medium Alison


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