Here’s some advice to the hordes of theatergoers who will see Fun Home when it starts performances on Broadway in March: Don’t be afraid to wait at the stage door for stars Michael Cerveris and Judy Kuhn. They’ll be more than pleased to meet and talk with you.
They’ve had plenty of experience, for when Fun Home played its wildly acclaimed, sold-out run at the Public Theater in late 2013, dozens upon dozens of fans approached them after the show to tell them what a glorious time they’d had.
It was bit easier there. The Public Theater doesn’t have a stage door, so Cerveris and Kuhn took their leave by sauntering through the lobby. There, to their delight, came the appreciative crowds to talk about the funny, charming, and incisive production they’d just seen.
“I can’t count how many came up to us,” says Cerveris, who adds that many people said, “So much of my family life was like this.”
Cerveris plays Bruce and Kuhn is his wife, Helen. They were a real-life Pennsylvania couple whose one daughter, Alison Bechdel, wrote the 2006 graphic novel Fun Home on which the musical is based.
The family lives above a funeral home, where Bruce is an undertaker. As a result, Alison and brothers Christian and John have long been inured to playing downstairs among the coffins. Helen doesn’t mind as long as they keep their toys out of the way, for Bruce likes everything well-organized.
Easier said than done, of course. There are plenty of surprises that won’t be divulged here, but many of them peppered throughout the plot spurred the attendees at the Public to stay around and talk.
It’s been an important component of the marvelous experience that Kuhn has had with the show. “My daughter was applying to colleges and I wondered what my life would be when she was gone,” she says. “When I got the offer to work with Jeanine Tesori, Lisa Kron, and Sam Gold, I said, ‘I’m there!’”
Her faith was not misplaced. Fun Home received a Best Musical Drama Desk nomination as well as nods for Tesori’s music, Kron’s book and lyrics, and Gold’s direction. It also was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, which is a rarity for a musical.
“And it’s allowed me in a way to pick up a whole new family,” Kuhn says enthusiastically. “I’ve been with the show for every stage of development in the last three and a half years, from books-in-hand to being placed in front of music stands to a workshop at the Public to three weeks at Sundance. And yet despite all the acclaim, everyone’s still striving to make it even better.”
So theatergoers who saw it at the Public or who have the already-released original cast album will see a few changes — including the addition of Emily Skeggs, who took over from Alexandra Socha as Medium Alison.
No, Medium Alison doesn’t pull out a Ouija board or try to communicate with the long dead. Fun Home uses a trio of actresses to portray Bechdel at three different stages of her life. So Skeggs appears between Small Alison (Sydney Lucas) and the adult version, who’s simply named Alison (Beth Malone).
We see the seeds sown for the adult Alison. Small Alison takes a shine to a delivery woman and her ring of keys that suggests every door is open to her. Medium Alison makes a best friend (and then some) with Joan, a college classmate who helps Alison to learn who she really is.
En route, Bruce learns that too, leading to an unexpected conclusion.
“I was reminded that almost every family has secrets,” says Cerveris. “We’ve all been on that car ride where the driver has something he wants to get off his chest and the passenger wants him to divulge it — and then nothing gets said.”
Not everyone who met Kuhn in the lobby was solely interested in discussing what they’d just seen. Some were fans who’d been smitten with her for two solid decades.
“Yes, giving voice to Pocahontas,” she says, citing the title character of the 1995 Disney animated film, “got me noticed by a lot of people. Many of them say, ‘This is the first time I’ve seen you — and I’m glad to see what you look like!’”
Mostly, however, the postshow talks turned to the show itself. “It’s often hilarious and a beautiful story that tells how a young girl can overcome and accept the world,” says Kuhn. “Alison Bechdel has been greatly lauded in her career, even to the point where she’s been given a MacArthur Genius grant.”
The role is a departure for Cerveris, who isn’t a parent and rarely finds himself portraying a dad. “Even when I reached the right age, I was seldom was chosen to play one,” says the 54-year-old before he remembers and realizes, “Well, Sweeney Todd was a father,” citing the role that got him his third of five Tony nominations.
“But I am an uncle who’s close to my nephew,” he adds. “Maybe that came through to the kids in the cast, because they did take to me. They’d climb over me and show me what they’d done in school that day. It made me think of when I was that affectionate with my own dad, who’s always been wonderful to me.”
In return, Cerveris has made his own father quite proud by appearing in Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd, Assassins, and Road Show. “Dad’s a real Sondheim devotee,” he says. “I still remember when I was 13 and he played the long-playing record of A Little Night Music while pointing out in awe that every song was in three-quarter time or a variation thereof.”
There’s no record that Bruce cared for Sondheim, but he and Cerveris almost have one thing in common: Bruce liked to rummage around trash cans to find what he inferred were “old treasures”; Cerveris does it in a more rarefied way by trolling eBay — although his motivation isn’t collecting for fun or profit.
“I always look for items that can help me with a role,” he says. “I have plenty of Argentinian tango records that got me more in the mood for Juan Peron in Evita. I now own many books about John Wilkes Booth that helped me into his mind.” (That reading obviously paid off: Cerveris won a Tony for Assassins.)
Alas, eBay wasn’t able to help Cerveris find any information on Bruce. “Bruce was a quiet, private person,” he says. “As much as I wanted to accurately establish his point of view, all I could find were other people’s opinions of him.”
Although the critics gave Cerveris good reviews, the one that particularly pleased him came from Alison Bechdel and her brother. “They said I made their father funny and charming, the way he could be, but that I also added in that mysterious quality he had.”
Mysterious indeed — which is part of the surprise. “I was hoping to find more when we all went to the family home at Beech Creek, Pennsylvania, which is now a bed-and-breakfast,” says Cerveris. “While seeing the actual wallpaper that Bruce put up was really affecting, I didn’t really find out any more about him. This has been more of an intuitive than intellectual journey.”
He’ll have plenty of chances to deepen his character, for Fun Home is poised to be a sharp contender for multiple Tony Awards. And can we have a recount on that Pulitzer too?
Photo: Roberta Collindrea, Joel Perez, Emily Skeggs, Beth Malone, Sydney Lucas, Michael Cerveris, Judy Kuhn, Zell Steele Morrow, Oscar Williams. Credit: Joan Marcus
Last updated and effective as of January 14, 2019
Introduction and Your Acceptance of These Terms
Information We Collect
Information we collect directly from you: Your provision of your personal information to Us is completely voluntary; it is not a statutory or contractual requirement. Personally Identifiable Information (“PII”) is information that is uniquely identifiable to you, such as your name, address, email address, phone number, credit card number and other personal information that is not otherwise publicly available. Certain features of Our website may require that you provide Us with your personal information, including:
Mobile Alert Sign-Up (SMS)
Contact Us (email)
Public forums (e.g. message boards)
E-commerce (ticket purchases)
Your use of any of the features above;
New content on Our website;
News that We think may interest you about Us;
Responses to your questions/comments to us; and
Information relating to a ticket purchase.
We may use your demographic information for in house statistics, advertising and marketing target information. Our processing of your personal information is necessary for the performance and fulfillment of the contract between us and to provide you with Our services. We will also process, transfer, disclose and preserve personal information when We have a good faith belief that doing so is necessary, to resolve disputes, enforce our agreements and otherwise required by law. You can always opt-out of receiving future promotional communications from Us; see the Choice/Opt-out section below.Information We Collect Automatically: Even if you don’t use any of the features above, when you visit Our website, We may collect certain information about you.
From your Browser. For example, Our servers keep an activity log that tracks all visitors to the website. The information in the activity log does not identify you individually. The information collected may include among other data: your IP address, your registered domain or home server, time of access, date of access, web page(s) visited, number of clicks, software crash reports, type of browser used, session identification number, search terms, search results, access times and referring website’s address. We use your IP address to help diagnose problems with Our server and to administer Our website. Your IP address is also used to gather broad demographic information, such as country of origin and geographic location. We use such data in the aggregate to run internal analyses to improve upon your experience on Our website.
Tracking Tags (also known as “web beacons,” “action tags” or “single-pixel gifs”). Our website may also use tracking tags. Tracking tags are invisible graphics embedded in the pages of Our website that are programmed to collect non-personal information about your use of Our website. Like cookies, tracking tags provide overall usage patterns for Our website that We use for analysis and to provide personalized services and advertising content.
We comply with the Self-Regulatory Principles for Online Behavioral Advertising set forth by the Digital Advertising Alliance (DAA). You can opt-out of targeted advertising from certain providers at www.aboutads.info/consumers.
How We Use Your Personal Information
The personal information We collect allows Us to keep you posted on updates to Broadway Direct. It also helps Us to improve Our services, content, and advertising. If you don’t want to be on Our email list, you can opt out anytime by clicking the “unsubscribe” button or sending an unsubscribe email to [email protected]. From time to time, We may use your personal information to send transactional emails, such as communications about purchases and changes to Our terms, conditions, and policies. Because this information is important to your interaction with Broadway Direct, you may not opt out of receiving these communications. We may also use personal information for internal purposes such as auditing, data analysis, and research to improve Broadway Direct’s services, and customer communications. If you enter into a sweepstakes, contest, or similar promotion We may use the information you provide to administer those programs.
Information Collected By/Shared With Third Parties
Third Parties Doing Work for Us. Third parties have no rights to use any data We have collected on your behalf. However, We may employ other companies or individuals to perform functions on Our behalf, such as sending postal mail, email, and text messages, conducting sweepstakes/contests, prize fulfillment and promotional activities, analyzing data, providing marketing assistance, processing credit card payments and providing customer service. These outside suppliers, agents and vendors have access to your personal information only as needed to perform their functions.
Third Parties with Links from Our Website. From our website, you may be able to click on links to third party sites to buy tickets and merchandise and for other purposes. These third party sites may collect information, including personal information. We are not responsible for, nor do we have access to the information they collect. The collection of this information is governed by the privacy policies on the applicable third party sites.
Social Networking Services. Our website may integrate with social networking services. We do not control such services and are not liable for the manner in which they operate. While we may provide you with the ability to use such services in connection with our website, we are doing so merely as an accommodation and, like you, are relying upon those third party services to operate properly and fairly.
When necessary. We may also release personal information when we believe, in good faith, that such release is reasonably necessary to protect the rights, property or safety of Ourselves, Our clients, Our users, or others. We may disclose personal information about you to law enforcement, other government officials, or other third parties, as We, in our sole discretion, believe necessary or appropriate, in connection with an investigation of fraud, intellectual property infringement, or other activity that is illegal or may expose Us to legal liability.
Transactions With Third Party E-commerce Partners, Vendors and Advertisers
Delivery of Advertising and Other Content
In addition to ads and content that We may serve you directly, We use third-party advertising companies and marketing services companies to serve ads and other content when you visit Broadway Direct and elsewhere on the internet and in other media. Both We and these companies may use information about your visits to Broadway Direct and elsewhere to serve ads and other content to you. In the course of doing so, a unique third-party cookie may be placed or recognized on your browser by such companies. In addition, We and these companies may use Web beacons to help manage Our online advertising and content. These Web beacons enable Us and the third-party companies to recognize a browser’s cookie when a browser visits this Site and to learn which banner ads bring users to our website and to serve you ads that you may find of interest elsewhere on the internet and in other media. Both Broadway Direct and these companies may use information obtained from your visits to Broadway Direct or other websites, and information received from you offline in order to provide advertisements about goods and services and other content of interest to you across the internet and in other media. If you would like more information about this practice and to know your choices about not having this information used in this manner by Our third party advertising companies, please visit http://www.networkadvertising.org/optout_nonppii.asp and/or www.aboutads.info/choices. European users may opt out of receiving targeted advertising by visiting http://www.youronlinechoices.eu/. In addition, we may provide PII and Anonymous Information to marketing services companies. This may include information we received from you offline or online. These companies may combine information we provide (including PII and Anonymous Information) with personal and anonymous information they may have about you, using cookies they place or that We place on their behalf, as described in the section regarding “Cookies and Tracking Tags”. We require these companies to delete the PII we provide them. These companies may use the resulting non-personal information and such cookies for their own marketing purposes, and they may provide the same to their customers for their customer’s marketing purposes. Some of Our emails may contain tags that allow Us and Our advertisers and other partners to determine the types of content that may be of interest to you. Those tags may contain PII and may be shared with others to the same extent indicated in the section regarding “Cookies and Tracking Tags”. Those tags may not be deleted but you can opt out of receiving the emails.
Use of This Site by Children
The Site is not directed to individuals under the age of thirteen (13), and We request that such individuals do not provide personal information through the Site. If a parent or guardian becomes aware that his or her child has provided Us with PII without the parent or guardian’s consent by, for example, misrepresenting his or her age, that parent or guardian should contact us at [email protected]. If Broadway Direct determines that it has collected personal information of children under the age of 13, Broadway Direct will immediately delete such information and any accounts believed to be held by children under 13. In addition, we may not collect or process information from a citizen of an EU member state under the age of sixteen (16) without such person’s parental consent. If you are a citizen of an EU member state under the age of 16, please tell your parents that you are using the Site and have your parents email Us at [email protected] so that We may delete any information We may have collected about you.
California Civil Code § 1798.83 permits California residents to request information about whether we have disclosed personal information to any third parties for the third parties’ direct marketing purposes. California residents have the right to request in writing: (a) a list of the categories of Personal Information, such as name, email address and mailing address and the type of services provided to the customer that a business has disclosed to third parties (including affiliates that are separate legal entities) during the immediately preceding calendar year for the third parties’ direct marketing purposes and (b) the names and addresses of all such third parties. To make a request, please contact Us at the following email address: [email protected].
Rights of EU Data Subjects
If you are a resident of the European Union, under the GDPR, European Union residents, as data subjects, have the following rights:
Right to access – This right allows individuals to obtain confirmation as to whether or not personal information concerning him or her is being processed and provide access to such personal information. It also allows individuals to request details of the processing of his or her personal information, including, without limitation, categories of recipients to whom the personal information have been or will be disclosed and purposes of processing.
Right to rectify – This right allows individuals to rectify any inaccurate personal information about him or her.
Right to restrict processing – This right allows individuals to block or suppress processing of personal data under certain circumstances.
Right to be forgotten – This right is also known as the “right to erasure”. It is an individual’s right to have personal data erased or to prevent processing in specific circumstances.
Right of data portability – This right allows individuals to move, copy or transfer personal data from one place to another in a secure manner without interrupting the integrity and usability of the information.
Right to object to processing – This right allows individuals to object to certain types of processing, including direct marketing, profiling and providing for purposes of scientific or historical research and statistics.
An EU resident has the right to access his or her personal data that We hold and to ask that their personal data be corrected or erased and to port their data. An EU resident may also have the right to object to, or request that We restrict certain processing or to withdraw consent previously provided. If you would like to exercise your rights under the GDPR, please contact us at [email protected]. If you are an EU resident and have a concern about our processing of your personal data that we are not able to resolve, you have the right to lodge a complaint with the Data Protection Authority where you reside. For contact details of your relevant local Data Protection Authority, please see http://ec.europa.eu/newsroom/article29/item-detail.cfm?item_id=612080
Security of Your Personal Information
Broadway Direct employs reasonable security measures consistent with standard industry practice, for personal information collected through this Site, including physical, electronic and operational measures to maintain security and prevent unauthorized access. While Broadway Direct takes all appropriate steps to safeguard personal information under Our control, unfortunately, no data transmission over the Internet or method of storing data can be guaranteed to be 100% secure. As such, We cannot guarantee that personal information supplied by users will not be accessed on Our servers, or intercepted while being transmitted to Us over the Internet. We assume no liability for any damages you may suffer as a result of interception, alteration or misuse of information during such transfers.
We will retain your information for as long as your account or inquiry is active and for a reasonable time thereafter in accordance with Our standard procedures or as necessary to comply with Our legal obligations, to resolve disputes, and to enforce Our agreements. Even if We delete some or all of your Personal Information, We may continue to retain and use aggregate or anonymous data previously collected and/or anonymize or aggregate your Personal Information. Please note that We will not be liable for disclosures of your data due to errors or unauthorized acts of third parties.
This Site provides users the opportunity to opt-out of receiving communications from Us, at any time, by email at [email protected], or by clicking the unsubscribe link in any email communication. The Site gives users the following options for removing their information from our database, to not receive future communications or to no longer receive our service, at any time.
Users can send mail to the following postal address: Broadway Direct 1501 Broadway 14th floor New York, NY 10036
Users can call the following telephone number: (800) 223-6715.
Users can opt-out of receiving future newsletter emails from Us by selecting the “unsubscribe” link at the bottom of our email. However, We are not responsible for removing your information from the lists of any third party who has previously been provided with your information or is collecting your information through their cookies. You have the right to withdraw your consent for Our processing for your personal information by contacting us at [email protected].
This website gives users the following options for changing and modifying information previously provided, at any time.
Users can send mail to the following postal address: Broadway Direct 1501 Broadway 14th floor New York, NY 10036
Users can call the following telephone number: (800) 223-6715
In the event that We are, or any component of our operations is, merged with, or is acquired by, another entity, then any such successor or acquiring entity may become the successor to Our obligations with respect to the personal information that you have provided to Us, which would be necessary for the entity to effectively continue our business. By using this website, you consent to any transfer and use of such personal information by an entity assuming control of Our operations as a result of a merger, purchase of assets, or liquidation in bankruptcy or insolvency.