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Keenan-Bolger to star in ‘Oldest Boy’ Musical ‘Fun Home’ goes to B’way

NEW YORK, Aug 8, (AP): Broadway musicals aren’t often set in funeral homes, but one is about to — “Fun Home.” Producers of the offbeat but moving and refreshing show said Thursday they will mount the musical this spring at the Circle in the Square Theatre. Performances will begin April 4 under the direction of Sam Gold. “Fun Home,” with a book and lyrics by Lisa Kron and music by Jeanine Tesori, played for four months at the off-Broadway Public Theater last year. It’s been adapted from Alison Bechdel’s graphic memoir about growing up in a funeral home with a closeted gay dad.

“When I watch the show, I see a child discovering her parent through adult eyes and the emotional, transforming experience that results. I do believe everyone can relate to that. There’s a universal idea there that hugely appeals to people,” said Kristin Caskey, one of the producers. The musical — the title is an abbreviation for the business Bechdel’s father runs — was named the season’s Best Musical by the New York Drama Critics Circle this year and was also a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

“There’s something about the sum total of the story, the music, the artistry, the stagecraft. Even though it’s unexpected material, audiences just trusted it and opened themselves up to it,” said producer Mike Isaacson. “It wasn’t a kind-of-liked-it show. It was a you’ve-got-to-go-see-it show.” Tesori is also the songwriter behind “Violet” and “Caroline, or Change” and Kron’s works include “Well,” ‘’2.5 Minute Ride” and “In the Wake.” Tony Award-winners Caskey and Isaacson have produced such shows as “Red,” ‘’Caroline, or Change” and “Thoroughly Modern Millie.” They have joined up with “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” and “If/Then” producer Barbara Whitman to present “Fun Home.”
Say this twice: “Side Show” is coming to Broadway. A revival of the musical about a pair of conjoined twins during the vaudeville era will open on Broadway this fall at the St. James Theatre, fresh off a well-received run in Washington, DC The show has been reimagined and directed by Bill Condon. It begins performances on Oct 28, with an opening night set for Nov 17. Erin Davie and Emily Padgett, who starred when it played the Kennedy Center and La Jolla Playhouse earlier this year, will reprise their roles for Broadway. The original production, starring Alice Ripley and Emily Skinner, played Broadway in 1997 and was nominated for best musical, best book and best score. Henry Krieger wrote the songs and Bill Russell wrote the lyrics and book.
Celia Keenan-Bolger, who has portrayed shy girls and fearless young ladies, is about to try something new — playing a mother. The 36-year-old Tony Award-nominated actress said Wednesday she has signed on to star in Sarah Ruhl’s new play “The Oldest Boy.” It begins previews Oct 9 at the Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater at Lincoln Center. “I’ve never gotten to play a mother onstage,” Keenan-Bolger said. “I’ve barely gotten to play a grown-up. So I’m really excited.” In “The Oldest Boy,” she will play the mother of a toddler who is believed to be the reincarnation of a high Buddhist teacher. His parents must decide whether he should begin spiritual training far away or stay home. Rebecca Taichman will direct. Keenan-Bolger said she has been a big admirer of Ruhl, whose other works include the Pulitzer Prize finalist “In The Next Room, or the vibrator play” and “Stage Kiss.” Her admiration only deepened when she read the script for “The Oldest Boy.” “I had never read anything like it,” Keenan-Bolger said. “It explores themes of what it is to be a parent and to be confronted by a different culture and religion. And it talks about teachers and students, which is something I think we don’t talk about that much in America.”
To get into the role, Keenan-Bolger has been reading heavily — including “The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying” — and she plans to go on a Buddhist retreat in the coming days. “I feel like my world just got so much bigger just by getting to do this play,” she said. Keenan-Bolger’s Broadway credits include the shy Laura Wingfield in this winter’s stunning revival of Tennessee Williams’ “The Glass Menagerie” and a fearless Molly in “Peter and the Starcatcher.” She also has been in “Les Miserables” and “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.” The rest of the cast of “The Oldest Boy” will be Ernest Abuba, Joel de la Fuente, Tsering Dorjee, Takemi Kitamura, James Saito, Jon Norman Schneider and Nami Yamamoto. Fuente, who plays her husband in the work, is the best friend of her husband, John Ellison Conlee, and even officiated at their wedding. “That’s how incestuous it gets,” she said, laughing.

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