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Beth Malone Takes the Lead in First Broadway Musical About a Lesbian

Beth Malone will star in 'Fun Home,' the first Broadway musical with a lead actress who is a lesbian. She'll share the role with (Photo: Fun Home)

Beth Malone will star in ‘Fun Home,’ the first Broadway musical with a lead character who is a lesbian. She’ll share the role with Emily Skeggs and Sydney Lucas (Photo: Fun Home)

Beth Malone, Emily Skeggs and Sydney Lucas will make history when they debut in a new Broadway musical featuring the first openly lesbian woman as the lead character in Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic. Will conservative theatergoers buy into it?

The show is based on the best-selling, graphic memoir by writer/cartoonist Alison Bechdel.

It’s a coming-of-age musical that examines Bechdel’s life as a lesbian growing up in a dysfunctional family. Her late father was a closeted gay man who ran a funeral home and taught English in rural Pennsylvania.

Three actresses are playing the part because Bechdel is portrayed as a child, college student and an adult.

“It is the first lesbian lead character in the history of musical theater and that is a story that needs to be told,” director Sam Gold told Reuters. “It feels like a very good time in our culture to give voice to that character.”

Tony winner Michael Cerveris plays the father, Bruce Bechdel, a brilliant man with an obsession for restoring the family’s Victorian home.

His sudden death leaves unanswered questions and sets the stage for Bechdel to begin reconciling her sexuality and her relationship with her father. The musical deals with the cross-currents of shame, forgiveness and ultimately living with the truth.

If there’s any concern about attracting theatergoers, the musical’s extended run Off-Broadway at the Public Theater should dispel that. It played to sold-out houses and was a finalist for the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for drama.

Tony nominee Lisa Kron adapted the book and provided the lyrics to music by Jeanine Tesori, according to the production.

In another departure from the usual Broadway fare, the show will be staged at the Circle in the Square Theatre The audience sits around its circular stage.

“What it means is you are inside the show, with the characters,” Gold said. “You have the same relationship to the actors as the actors have to each other.”

The show begins previews on April 19. It opens April 22.

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