Fun Home – the five-time Tony-Award-winning musical set in a funeral home – has just had its first preview at the Young Vic. Among its cast is The Stephen Sondheim Society's Patron Jenna Russell, and Musical Director is the National Theatre's Follies MD – and former SSSSPOTY judge – Nigel Lilley.
The tragicomic musical is based on the life of the graphic novelist Alison Bechdel and focuses on her coming to terms with her own sexuality and that of her gay father – the subject of her comic-book writings. Jenna plays the role of mother and wife Helen, who struggles to keep the family together when husband Bruce's dalliances with younger men threaten to disrupt their lives.
The show was written by Jeanine Tesori (music) and Lisa Kron (lyrics/book) and opened off-Broadway at New York's Public Theater in September 2013 before transferring to the Circle in the Square Theatre, where it garnered 12 Tony nominations, winning five, including Best Musical, and was shortlisted for the Pulitzer. The original Broadway cast included Michael Cerveris (Sweeney Todd, 2005, and Road Show, 2008) as Bruce and Judy Kuhn (Passion, 2013) as Helen.
Jenna is best known to Sondheim fans as Dot/Marie in the 2006 Menier Chocolate Factory's Sunday in the Park with George, for which she won the Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Musical (a production that transferred to Broadway, earning her a Tony nomination), as the Baker's Wife in the 2010 Regent's Park production of Into The Woods, and as Mary in Maria Friedman's 2012 revival of Merrily We Roll Along at the Menier and Pinter. She also played Cinderella in the Donmar's Into The Woods in 1998, and of course Young Sally in Follies at the Shaftesbury Theatre in 1987.
Also in the cast, in the lead role of the adult Alison, is Kaisa Hammarlund, who appeared twice in Menier Sondheim roles: first alongside Jenna as Celeste II (and first cover Dot) in Sunday in the Park with George, and as Petra in A Little Night Music (2008) with Hannah Waddingham.
Fun Home previews from Monday 18th June at the Young Vic and opens on 28th June until 1st September. Tickets are £10–£40 and can be booked here.