What is Fun Home and why should I be ridiculously excited about it?

What’s all this hype about Fun Home then? 🤷 Isn’t it that 90s kids game show presented by Pat Sharp I used to watch after school? Is it making a comeback, because I am SO DOWN.

Nope, guess again!

Fun Home is, in fact, a MUSICAL! An acclaimed, groundbreaking musical directed by Sam Gold, which has already taken America by storm and is about to hit London for the first time – and we’re just hoping you guys can handle it…

Things you need to know:

1. This is the first musical with a lesbian character as the lead role
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Roberta Colindrez (Joan) & Emily Skeggs (Medium Alison) in the 2015 Broadway production of Fun Home

This is a coming-of-age story about a lesbian called Alison looking back on younger versions of herself, and examining her relationship with her closeted gay father. There are plenty of musicals around exploring the stories of gay men, but it’s rare to see a lesbian’s story in this genre and we’re so proud to fly that flag.

🎧 Listen: Changing My Major To Joan

(Sung by ‘Medium Alison’, aged 19, experiencing a sexual awakening after her first night spent with her friend, Joan.)

2. Fun Home the musical is based on a graphic novel (which is also a true story)

Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel

Written by Alison Bechdel, the original graphic memoir has garnered much critical acclaim, including being named Best Book of the Year by TimeEntertainment Weekly, the New York Times, and People. Alison wrote the book following her father’s suicide and tries to unpick how the two of them ended up taking such different paths in life. It is profound, tender, funny, incredibly powerful and deeply moving. Ideal material for a…musical, huh?

🎧 Listen: Telephone Wire

(Sung by ‘Present-day Alison’, reliving the moment she and her father take a drive after she comes out to him. She hopes she can talk openly to her father one last time.)

3. ‘Fun Home’ is actually code for funeral home
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Sydney Lucas, Zell Morrow & Oscar Williams in the 2015 Broadway production of Fun Home

A musical about a funeral home? This is already a plot twist! Yes, the narrative centres on Alison who grew up in her family’s Pennsylvania funeral home (her father was the funeral home director) where she and her brothers would sometimes play in the coffins… Whilst not your traditional setting for a musical, this kind of juxtaposition of humour and tragedy is part of what makes the show so riveting.

🎧 Listen: Come to the Fun Home

(Sung by ‘Young Alison’ and her brothers, Christian and John, who are playing at making a TV advert for their family’s funeral home, AKA the ‘fun home’.)

4. It won 5 Tony Awards the year it opened on Broadway 🏅🏅🏅🏅🏅

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The original Broadway production was nominated for 12 Tony Awards in 2015, winning FIVE, including Best Musical. Also, the truly excellent Jeanine Tesori & Lisa Kron were the first female writing team to win the Tony Award for Best Original Score. Their acceptance speech is everything. (Did we mention this musical has an all female writing team?)

🎧 Listen: Days and Days

(Sung by Alison’s mother, Helen, who tells Alison about how her relationship with her father changed over the years. A beautiful example of Tesori & Kron’s musical genius.)

5. The Bechdel Test is named after – you guessed it – Alison Bechdel

We’re just going to let The Simpsons explain this one…

Alison featured this 3-step measure for films in her long-running comic Dykes to Watch Out For (Does it have at least 2 women in it and do they speak to each other about something besides a man?) and has since grown in popularity so much that it has become part of our modern-day vernacular.

🎧 Listen: Ring of Keys

(Sung by ‘Young Alison’, who, at 10 years old, is on the brink of discovering her sexuality when she sees a woman walk into the cafe that she and her father are sitting in – this one definitely passes the Bechdel test)

 
So, ridiculously excited yet? We definitely are. Fun Home opens 18 June, so hurry and snap up your tickets now!

11 Questions with the cast of The Jungle | Moein Ghobsheh

Moein Ghobsheh, also known as Milan among his friends, hails from Iran, and spent time living in the Calais “Jungle” before successfully making the boarder crossing to the UK. He plays the role of Omid in The Jungle and these are his 11 Questions…

1. Can you describe your character in The Jungle in three words?

Crazy, fighter, musical.

2.  What’s the most exciting thing about being part of this particular Young Vic production?

I really like it, because this is my story.

3. How do you think this show will make audiences feel?

I hope they will feel safe.

4. Did you do anything unusual to prepare for this role?

Well, I lived in the Calais “Jungle”.

5. What was it like working with Good Chance Theatre?

It’s been a good time working with Good Chance, both here and in the Calais “Jungle”.

6. What are you usually doing 10 minutes before the show begins?

I listen to music and tune my guitar.

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Back row: Mohammad Amiri, Mohamed Sarrar, Elham Ehsas, Moein Ghobsheh. Front Row: John Pfumojena. (Source: @FalsettoJohn ) 

7. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Anything Amy* says!

*Amy works for Good Chance and met Moein in Calais

8. Who is your ultimate hero and what would you say to them if you ever met them?

My Dad.

9. What is your favourite play (that you’ve seen / read / worked on)?

This is actually my first real experience of theatre, although I suppose I did see some in Calais.

10. What is the last thing that made you laugh out loud.

Years ago, back home in Iran – my friends would make me really laugh out loud.

11. Confession time. This is a safe space: tell us something that you’ve never told anyone before.

I’m in love!

The Jungle runs until 9 Jan. Find out more about the production here. Tickets are sold out but you are welcome to queue for returns before each performance. 

Top image: Mohamed Sarrar, Ben Turner, Moein Ghobsheh, Elham Ehsas. Photo by David Sandison. 

11 Questions with the Vocal Coach of The Suppliant Women | Mary King

The “outstanding” (★★★★★ The Telegraph) The Suppliant Women has received wide-spread critical acclaim, not least for the power of the “choral power unleashed” (★★★★★ Whatsonstage) from the chorus of 27 young women recruited from local communities of South London who sing and dance their way through Aeschylus’ 2500 year old text. It seems fitting, therefore, that Mary King – Vocal Coach to finest of London’s musical theatre and opera stars, and who has coached these young women since their recruitment in September – should be in the hot seat for our 11 Questions today:

1. Can you describe your job in three words?

Fascinating, energising, varied!

2. What’s it like working with a community chorus of 50+ ?

All of the above (Answer 1) – stimulating and never dull

3. What was it that first got you interested in singing/music?

Been interested my whole life, but remember being absolutely awestruck by hearing Kathleen Ferrier on a recording singing Blow the wind Southerly – I must have been about 8, and I’d never heard anything like it

4. If you could have one super power, what would it be and why?

My super power would be the ability to get on a magic carpet at the end of a rehearsal / day’s work, and to be home in seconds…..(and a bonus if it could also be used for getting to work, or even making trips to seaside / countryside / parks and gardens…)

5. What are you usually doing 10 minutes before the show begins?

Either doing a vocal warm up with the cast, or sipping a dry white in the bar…

6. What is your favourite show you’ve seen, read or worked on?

Too many to mention, so it would change every day of the week – Bernstein’s Mass in 2010 was pretty amazing!

7. What’s the best thing about teaching?

Seeing / hearing people develop over a rehearsal period, and accomplish things which are a) amazing and b) that they didn’t necessarily know they could…

8. How do you think this show will make audiences feel?

Hopefully it will be thought provoking; touching and exciting

9. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

Stick in there… never give up

10. Who is your ultimate hero, and what would you say to them if you could meet them?

Not sure I have an ultimate hero / heroine… I met Bobby McFerrin once, (who would be on my list, if I had one) and could only mumble…

11. Confession time. This is a safe space: tell us something you’ve never told anyone before

I cannot change my new light bulbs….

5 things you didn’t know about Nina Simone (& even if you did they’re still pretty incredible)

Josette Bushell-Mingo in Nina at the Young Vic. Photo by Simon Annand.jpg

Josette Bushell-Bingo in Nina at the Young Vic. Photo by Simon Annand.

1. What’s in a name? Nina Simone was born in 1933 as the slightly-less-catchy Eunice Waymon. She decided to change it after taking a job as a pianist at a bar in Atlantic City and being told she was going to have to sing too. Terrified her Methodist preacher mother would find out she was singing the “devil’s music”, she laid low under this new name which would soon become iconic. “Nina” was a term of endearment used by an ex-boyfriend whilst “Simone” came from the French actress Simone Signoret.

2. “This Bach, I liked him!” Young Nina began playing the piano as a 3 year old in church, crossing the railroad tracks to the white part of town to study classical piano for free lessons which she adored. Her aim was to be the first black classical pianist in America. It was on this journey that she encountered racism as a young girl, paving the way for her later career in activism: first when her parents were moved to the back of the church during her first piano recital to make way for a white family (Nina refused to play unless they were brought back to the front); then again when she was rejected from the Philadelphia’s Curtis Institute of Music based on her race (she carried on trying, and did get into the Julliard School of Music).

3. Come and knock on my door… Malcolm X and Nina Simone lived next door to one another in Mount Vernon, New York during the late 1960s. The pair were united in their approach to the Civil Rights Movement, believing that a militant stance would be more effective at taking on the establishment than the peaceful protest offered up by Martin Luther King Jr. This was in great contrast to Nina’s early life where she had been taught that racism was the “great unspoken” in her childhood home.

4. “A love affair with fire” – Lisa Simone on her mother. Nina’s second husband Andrew Stroud gave up his day job to become her manager and producer full-time not long after they met and fell in love. They were introduced  in March 1961 while she was playing at a midtown supper club and he was a formidable New York City police officer. Their marriage turned tempestuous, with Stroud becoming abusive before she eventually left him.

5. The messages in Nina’s songs are as relevant today as ever. Nina’s passionate, revolutionary protest anthems such as Mississippi Goddam – a direct response to the murder of Medgar Evers and the Alabama church bombings which killed four children in 1963 – were a call to action and a truly inspiring point of change in the black power movement. In recent years, in the US, the UK and the world over, there have been political stirrings reminiscent of those seen in the 60s and 70s. Nina and her songs are perhaps even more necessary now than ever before.

Nina: A Story about me and Nina Simone runs until 29 July in the Maria studio at the Young Vic. Tickets are sold out but we’ll be operating a returns queue at the box office in advance of each performance.

🎧🎶Listen to our Nina Simone playlist on Spotify to get you in the mood… 🎧🎶

6 of our favourite songs from The Chemical Brothers 🎧

On Wednesday we announced that The Chemical Brothers’ Tom Rowlands will be making his theatre debut at the Young Vic to compose original music for Life of Galileo.

We’ve heard some sneak peeks of the music and you’re in for a serious treat with this one.

We wanted to celebrate this announcement by sharing our all-time favourite music from The Chemical Brothers. Now crank up the volume and we’ll see you at the Young Vic from 6 May! 👌

1. Galvanize

2. Hey Boy Hey Girl

3. Block Rockin’ Beats

4. Wide Open ft Beck

5. Go

6. Salmon Dance


Life of Galileo runs 6 May – 1 July at the Young Vic directed by BAFTA Award-winning director Joe Wright (Atonement, Pride and Prejudice).  Brendan Cowell plays Galileo following his acclaimed performance in Yerma

Book tickets to Life of Galileo

★★★★ “Brutally funny account of living with mental illness” | Living With the Lights On reviews

The reviews are coming in thick and fast for Mark Lockyer’s gripping true story of an actor living life on the edge, from his on-stage meltdown as Mercutio at the RSC to his fiery relationships and ultimate recovery.

Check out the reviews below and read what our audiences have been saying so far on Storify.

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Mark Lockyer in Living With the Lights On. Photography by Simon Annand.

★★★★
“Brutally funny account of living with mental illness”
The Guardian | Read the full review

★★★★
“Lockyer has one hell of a story, and he tells it rivetingly well”
The Times | Read the full review

★★★★
“A vivid account of an almighty unravelling”
Evening Standard | Read the full review

★★★★
“Darkly comic solo show…riveting”
Time Out | Read the full review

★★★★
“Lockyer is an engaging and energetic raconteur”
Whatsonstage | Read the full review

★★★★★
“See a great classical actor spill his guts out about life off stage”
The Upcoming | Read the full review

Living With the Lights On is at the Young Vic for a strictly limited run until 23 Dec, so snap up your tickets now.

The Living With the Lights On Safe Space performance, designed especially for people with experience of mental health problems, takes place on 17 Dec at 2.45pm. Find out more about it and book here.

Catch a glimpse of Mark busking on The Cut outside the theatre in our brand new trailer:

 

Blue/Orange | Setting the Tone

Matthew Xia’s revival of Joe Penhall’s “timeless” production of Blue/Orange has been critically acclaimed and received brilliantly by audiences. We spoke to Matthew and Joe about the production and the script to get an insight into how they both approached the text, the themes it explores and what set the tone of Blue/Orange, including some iconic 90s tracks that fill the Young Vic every night.

In our podcast, Off Book, we went in depth with Matthew Xia on his approach to reviving Blue/Orange and talked about his upbringing in London, background as a DJ as well as the biggest influences on his artistic career.  

Blue/Orange features some iconic 90s tracks featuring Oasis, Blur, Destiny’s Child and many more. Enjoy some of the songs that set the scene with our Blue/Orange playlist.

Blue/Orange writer Joe Penhall discusses how he came to write his Olivier-award winning, ‘state of the nation’ classic and looks back on 90s Britain, when the script was written.

Blue/Orange runs at the Young Vic until 2 Jul. Book your tickets online.