Proud Mary Theatre Company Presents BOY August 9-18

The award-winning Proud Mary Theatre Company, South Carolina’s only LGBTQ+ theatre company, presents the state community theatre premiere of BOY by Anna Ziegler August 9-18 at three different locations across the Upstate.

BOY, inspired by a true story, is about a well-intentioned doctor in the 1960s who convinces the parents of a male infant to raise their son as a girl after a botched circumcision. Two decades later, the repercussions of that choice continue to unfold. among the tricky terrain of finding love and the confusion of sexual identity.

BOY will premiere August 9-11 in the newly-remodeled Blackbox Theatre at the West Main Artists Co-Operative in Spartanburg. The troupe will present two shows Tuesday and Wednesday, August 13-14 at 8 p.m. in Greenville at Coffee Underground, then make their Anderson debut at The Market Theatre Company Friday through Sunday, August 16-18.

The titular Boy, Adam, is played by Greenville transgender actor Noah Fitzer, who recently starred as Christian Bechdel in Proud Mary’s musical production of “Fun Home.”
The doctor is played by Spartanburg’s Ben Dawkins (a regular player at Spartanburg Little Theatre). Elizabeth Colson and Tyler Smith play parents Trudy and Doug, and Valerie Saporito is Adam’s girlfriend, Jenny. BOY is directed by Robert Fuson and stage managed by Cary Doyle.

BOY in Spartanburg
Friday-Saturday, August 9-10 @ 8 p.m.
Sunday, August 11 @ 3 p.m.
West Main Artists Co-Operative, 578 West Main St.

BOY in Greenville
Tuesday-Wednesday, August 13-14 @ 8 p.m.
Coffee Underground, 1 E. Coffee St.

BOY in Anderson
Friday-Saturday, August 16-17 @ 8 p.m.
Sunday, August 18 @ 3 p.m.
The Market Theatre Company, 110 Federal St.

Proud Mary Presents Del Shores of ‘Sordid Lives,’ ‘Southern Baptist Sissies’

Famed Writer Del Shores Headlines Spartanburg Fringe Arts Festival

More than a pot will be stirred when international celebrity Del Shores hits the stage for Spartanburg Fringe Festival and Proud Mary Theatre Company presenting his comedy show The Sh*t Stirrer Sunday, June 23, at West Main Artists Co-op.

The acclaimed Texas-born bad boy writer for theatre, film, and television will actually be on stage twice that night: First presenting his stand-up comedy show at 7 p.m. and then at 8:30 p.m. for the after-show VIP reception, presenting This Is Your Sordid Life: An Interview with Del Shores. Admission for the evening’s festivities in only $20 and available at SpartanburgFringeFestival.com or at the door!

“Del Shores is an icon, and we are tickled pink to have him here in person at the Festival for some backstage drama,” Festival Director Sandy Staggs said. “Proud Mary Theatre produced his play Southern Baptist Sissies last summer and got a lot of heat from a local pastor — and Del rose to our defense all the way from California. And next summer, we will literally mount his cult classic Sordid Lives.”

Staggs will host the after-show interview, during which audience members can ask Shores questions.

In his Facebook post about his Spartanburg visit, Shores wrote: “The show where straight men are already nervous and Republicans are looking for the nearest exit. The show with something to offend everybody. Beware! Tea will be spilled. You’ll get the tweets that got left-of-left Del blocked by Jerry Falwell Jr., Jax Taylor, Scott Baio, Mrs. Roy Moore, Paris Dennard, Piers Morgan, Cory Lewandowski, and more!”

Shores’ friend actor Leslie Jordan (Sordid Lives and Southern Baptist Sissies) has satirically said about the show: “Del Shores is talking behind my back in his filthy show with a title I will not even utter!  Please go and report back to me! I’m going straight to the police!”

The Sh*t Stirrer has been self-described as “all new and sinfully unscripted,” and boycotted by the Baptists, American Family Association, and actor Scott Baio, who played Chachi on the sitcom Happy Days.

Shores is the writer/director/producer of the films Sordid Lives, Blues for Willadean, Southern Baptist Sissies, and A Very Sordid Wedding.  He wrote and executive produced the MGM feature Daddy’s Dyin’… Who’s Got The Will?  He has written seven plays, produced thousands of times worldwide, four adapted for screen. In television, Shores wrote, directed, executive produced, and created the LOGO series Sordid Lives: The Series. He also wrote and executive produced Showtime’s groundbreaking Queer As Folk for the last three seasons, as well as for Dharma & Greg and Ned & Stacey.  He has directed Academy Award winner Octavia Spencer; Grammy Award winner Olivia Newton-John; Emmy winners/nominees Beau Bridges, Delta Burke, Leslie Jordan, Bonnie Bedelia, Bobbie Eakes, Patrika Darbo, and Rue McClanahan.

As a performer, Shores has performed in hundreds of stand-up gigs and completed a 2018 national tour with his critically acclaimed and award-winning one-man play Six Characters In Search Of A Play, which was filmed in 2019 at The Celebration Theatre live for upcoming film festivals.  His current stand-up touring show is The Sh*t Stirrer.

By the time Shores comes to Spartanburg, The Sh*t Stirrer will have already been seen in Dallas, TX; Eureka Springs, AR; Dewy Rose, GA; and Knoxville, TN. He will then take the show to Los Angeles and San Francisco.

“I want everyone to see everything we have to offer at Spartanburg Fringe Arts Festival,” Staggs said. “But if you can come to only one event, make it this one. Shores and his works are perfect examples of how art that many people consider to be too controversial, too revealing, too liberal, too true has now become mainstream entertainment.”

Spartanburg Fringe Arts Festival will run for the entire month of June 2019 at West Main Artists Co-op in Spartanburg. It will feature 125 artists and 32 events that include readings, cinema, theatre, comedy, an art exhibit, and local bands. For more details, please visit: SpartanburgFringeFestival.com.

Meet the Fun Home Cast: Hannah Searcy

Hannah Searcy plays Joan (as in “Changing My Major to Joan”).Hannah has been performing for ten years, and some of her favorite roles include: Ariel in Disney’s The Little Mermaid (Spartanburg Little Theatre),Lucy Van-Pelt in You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown! (Spartanburg Repertory Company), Sophie in Mamma Mia! (Tryon Little Theatre), and Ruth in Blithe Spirit (Rutherford County Arts Council).

Meet the Cast of FUN HOME: Our 3 Alisons

Eve Begelman, Paige Vasel and Samantha Eyler

Samantha Eyler, Paige Vasel and Eve Begelman play lesbian cartoonist Alison Bechdel at three different ages (43, 19 & 10 respectively) in Proud Mary Theatre Company’s production of the Tony-winning and groundbreaking musical “Fun Home.” with a live orchestra June 7-16 in the Venue at the West Main Artists Co-Operative in Spartanburg.

“Fun Home” runs through June 16, 2019 at the West Main Artists Co-Operative, 578 West Main St. in Spartanburg. Shows are Friday-Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 3 pm. Tickets are $15-25. For more information, visit www.proudmarytheatre.com.

Eve Begelman (Small Alison) has performed as vocalist, actor, and violinist since the age of seven. As a scholar in the 92nd Street Y Recanati- Kaplan program for voice, Eve appeared as a soloist with the Orchestra of St. Lukes in a NYC premiere of Maximus Musicus and as a guest soloist with the Christian McBride Trio. During her time as a member of the Manhattan Girls Chorus, she performed at Carnegie Hall with Zubin Mehta and the Israel Philharmonic. In 2018, Eve performed the role of Viola in Twelfth Night at the American Shakespeare Center summer program and in the South Carolina Governor’s School Discovery drama program. Regional theater credits include Young Juliette in For What it’s Worth, Tracy Turnblad in Hairspray, Katie Spoonapple in Dear Edwina. Eve has performed in the Midtown International Theatre Festival and the Dream Up Festival in New York City. In May 2019, Eve was selected to perform on the Rising Stars Piccolo Spoleto Festival and at the Peace Interludes Series at the Peace Center. Eve is a rising sophomore at the Fine Arts Center and Wade Hampton High School.

Paige Vasel (Medium Alison) Paige Vasel (Medium Alison) is a Wisconsin native and recent Converse College graduate with a BA in Musical Theatre and Dance. Fun Home is her third production with the Proud Mary Theatre Company and she couldn’t be happier to join them in telling this incredibly moving story. Previous credits include Rocky Horror (Janet Weiss) at The Warehouse Theatre, Never Swim Alone with The Guerrilla Shakespeare Company, Heathers(Veronica Sawyer) at Converse College, and more.

Samantha Eyler (Alison) has a BA in Musical Theatre from Marywood University. Fun Home is her premiere show in the Greenville area but she has performed in and costumed numerous shows across several states. Notable past roles include Mae (Reefer Madness, Imagine Productions), Magenta (Rocky Horror Show, Cyclodrama), Dina (Schoolhouse Rock Live, Shadowbox Live), and Diana (Chorus Line, 24/7 Mainstage).

What attracted you to this role? To this musical?

SE: I love musicals with substance. I think the lighthearted, just-for-fun musicals have their place but I think what makes musical theatre special is the ability of music to transcend the words and portray emotion and storytelling on another level. So, I am always drawn to musicals that utilize that technique and tell an engaging, moving, and emotional story.

PV: This musical is so raw and honest – it’s based on someone’s real life story and it handles that with extreme care. I wanted to take on that challenge of sharing a personal, true story. Hopefully I’ve done it gracefully! What attracted me to this role in particular is that I’m playing Alison at a very pivotal moment in her life; the moment she defines herself as a gay woman. It’s a huge breakthrough for her and making that life altering discovery every night as an actor is a joy. 

EB: This musical has a relevant and powerful theme that is important for any audience to learn. I was interested in telling this story and taking on small Alison as I envisioned her. 

What was your familiarity with FUN HOME?

SE: My mother bought me Alison Bechdel’s graphic novel as a gift knowing only that it had something to do with some musical. I had heard of the musical but hadn’t really gotten into yet when I first read the memoir. I was so moved by the way she used the graphic novel genre to tell a completely different type of story. 

PV: I’ve been tracking the show since the soundtrack first came out – though I’ve actually never seen a production of it! I loved the music and the storytelling is so strong through the lyrics and underscoring that you can understand the heart of the show just by listening to it. 

EB: I had seen the Broadway production. 

Have you read the memoir was based on?
SE: Reading the memoir was my first introduction to the show and I reread it when I was cast.

PV: I have read the memoir! I had bought it a couple years prior to being apart of this show and reread it once I had gotten the role.

EB: No. 

What can you tell our readers about your character?


SE: Of the three iterations of Alison, she is the most at peace with who she is. She has grown into herself and she has already made a career as a “lesbian cartoonist.” However, she still hasn’t properly mourned the loss of her father. She starts the show very cavalier about her painful memories but as the story unfolds she rediscovers herself and comes to terms with everything she knows about her father.


PV:
Medium Alison starts off very unsure of herself but being away at college presents her with an opportunity to learn who she is. And you get to see that journey of self discovery in the show. She’s uncomfortable in her body at first, she’s more reserved, and timid. And then as she figures out who she really is, she really opens up. 

EB: Small Alison is an adamant and strong willed 10 year old. She is passionate about cartoons and gets along well with her siblings. 

What are some of the more interesting things you have discovered or done in the rehearsal process?

SE: We got to do a really exciting workshop with an intimacy coordinator. I am not involved in the
scene of the show where the techniques were used but it was really interesting to learn the techniques that she uses to choreograph intimate moments in shows.

PV: One thing I noticed about Alison is how similar she is to her father. They are both headstrong, bold, and opinionated. But Medium Alison asserts many times throughout the show that she’s nothing like him. But after finding out about her father’s queerness, I think that really changes everything for her.


EB:
Alison is not rude and pushy, she is clear about what her opinions are and is not afraid to show it. 

What is the most challenging part about your role or songs? SE: This role has been significantly more challenging than I expected. I felt like I had a solid understanding of the character and she show prior to rehearsals. Because I am onstage observing all of the other moments of the show, I have spent a lot more time delving into my emotional and character arc and it has been wonderful but definitely a challenge and certainly time-consuming. PV: The songs are so wordy! It’s hard to find time to breathe. I love Changing My Major but the song can leave me a little breathless at times and I put a lot of effort into enunciating everything to the best of my ability so that the audience can understand what I’m trying to communicate. 

EB: The biggest challenge in playing this role is making sure I come off as young as possible and have the energy a 10 year old would. 

What have you learned about yourself from playing this role?

SE: Alison talks candidly in the memoir and in interviews about how she didn’t know how to properly process her emotions for much of her life, especially following her father’s death. I identify with that so much. I have found this to be a very cathartic experience and, though I have a very different story and family life, I have learned a lot about myself and the way I handle emotional experiences whilst wading through Alison’s journey. 

PV: I’ve learned that accepting yourself and being open with the world, while scary, can give you a lot of power and strength. EB: I have learned how much other actors choices can help me form my character. 

What do you hope patrons will take away from their Fun Home experience?

SE: I hope they enjoy the show but I also hope that they take away something deep and meaningful from this story. I think there are elements that everyone can connect with and I hope they are able to journey with us and walk away knowing themselves better. 

PV: I hope audiences can identify their own narratives within this story. While the show is very personal and unique, it speaks on a broader level about family and acceptance and everyone can relate to that.


EB:
I hope patrons take away how important father=daughter relationships are.

You all three play the same character Alison Bechdel at three different ages. What has been your strategy among the three of you to assimilate this person? Any physical traits or gestures you all have assumed?

SE:
We did a rehearsal where we all tried to see what gestures we were each using and tried to assimilate them across the three of us and get some physical consistency to Alison. As I am in the position of observing most scenes, I am in a good position to try to mimic and mirror the other two without seeming forced. I think we have discovered the character of Alison separately and when we came together we have worked to fill in the gaps to create a smooth transition from one Alison to the next and I’m excited about the growth we portray through her life. 


EB:
Watching the other Alisons helped me decide how I would move and act as the younger version of both characters

Meet the Fun Home Cast: Josh Begelman

Joshua Begelman plays John Bechdel in FUN HOME. Josh began his professional acting career at the age of eight in community theater productions as Rusty Charlie in Guys and Dolls , Grimsby in The Little Mermaid, and Agwe in Once on This Island. Television appearances include Nikolai on CBS’ Madam Secretary and two skits on Saturday Night Live with Will Ferrell and John Mulaney.  This past fall, Joshua participated in a table read of a new play by Iris Rainer Dart and directed by Lonny Price.  He has modeled for the Fall 2018 Tommy Hilfiger boys collection.  Joshua loves playing piano, especially pieces by Johann Sebastian Bach, and riding his 21 speed mountain bike.  He is a rising 5th grader at Stone Academy and is a member of the Jump Start school television program where he is the correspondent for World News every Thursday morning. Joshua is extremely excited to be performing as John in Proud Mary Theatre Company’s Fun Home production. 

“Fun Home” runs through June 16, 2019 at the West Main Artists Co-Operative, 578 West Main St. in Spartanburg. Shows are Thursdays–Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 3 pm. Thursday, June 13 at is PAY WHAT YOU CAN NIGHT. Tickets are $15-25. For more information, visit www.proudmarytheatre.com.

Meet the Cast of FUN HOME: Noah Fitzer

Noah Fitzer

Noah Fitzer plays Christian Bechdel, Alison’s older brother in Fun Home and will also play the title character in our next production BOY by Anna Ziegler Aug. 9-18.

Noah is a rising sophomore at Agnes Scott College, double-majoring in Philosophy and Music Composition. They were an active member of the drama club at Southside High School, their most notable role being Olive Ostrovsky in “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.” They then spent two years at the South Carolina Governor’s School for Science and Math. Noah writes music in their spare time, and they hope to make a career of being a singer-songwriter.

What attracted you to this role? To this musical?

Fun Home was the first time I saw masculinity in women being viewed as something noble and beautiful/handsome. When I listened to the soundtrack in high school, it empowered me, and it quickly became one of my favorite musicals of all time. I was willing to do anything to be a part of this story.

What was your familiarity with FUN HOME?

I’ve loved the soundtrack ever since I first heard it. My mother took me on a trip to New York in 2016 so that I could see it before it closed on Broadway, which was my dream at the time. Thanks, Mom!!!

Have you read the memoir the show was based on?

Sure have. To be honest, a lot of the literary references went over my head the first time I read it. I’m due for a re-read.

What can you tell us about your character?

Christian is Alison’s older brother as a preteen. He’s excited to be a part of the epic plans his sister and his father orchestrate.

What are some of the more interesting things you have discovered or done in the rehearsal process?

Bonding with Eve and Josh, who are real siblings, helped me to find a role within their dynamic. I also emulated my older brother quite a bit. I’ve been so impressed with my castmates, and I’m seeing that hard work and research bring portrayals from good to incredible.

What is the most challenging part about your role or songs?

Pretending to be a kid when there is a real kid in the scene with me.

What have you learned about yourself from playing this role?

I will never get tired of watching incredible performances from the wings. I’ve also become significantly more confident about my own theatricality. But mostly I’ve learned that I can play a little boy.

What do you hope patrons will take away from their Fun Home experience?

Parenting style and community attitude can make or break a child’s quality of life. Also, I hope queer women will see Alison’s journey of style and identity as a celebration of themselves, and I hope everyone else gains a better understanding of the significance of a person’s butch gender presentation.

Meet the Cast of Fun Home: Samantha Eyler

Samantha Eyler

Samantha Eyler (Alison) has a BA in Musical Theatre from Marywood University. Fun Home is her premiere show in the Greenville area but she has performed in and costumed numerous shows across several states. Notable past roles include Mae (Reefer Madness, Imagine Productions), Magenta (Rocky Horror Show, Cyclodrama), Dina (Schoolhouse Rock Live, Shadowbox Live), and Diana (Chorus Line, 24/7 Mainstage). She would like to thank her amazing husband for his support.

What attracted you to this role? To this musical?
I love musicals with substance. I think the lighthearted, just-for-fun musicals have their place but I think what makes musical theatre special is the ability of music to transcend the words and portray emotion and storytelling on another level. So, I am always drawn to musicals that utilize that technique and tell an engaging, moving, and emotional story.
What was your familiarity with FUN HOME?
My mother bought me Alison Bechdel’s graphic novel as a gift knowing only that it had something to do with some musical. I had heard of the musical but hadn’t really gotten into yet when I first read the memoir. I was so moved by the way she used the graphic novel genre to tell a completely different type of story. 
Have you read the memoir was based on?
Reading the memoir was my first introduction to the show and I reread it when I was cast.
What can you tell us about your character?
Of the three iterations of Alison, she is the most at peace with who she is. She has grown into herself and she has already made a career as a “lesbian cartoonist.” However, she still hasn’t properly mourned the loss of her father. She starts the show very cavalier about her painful memories but as the story unfolds she rediscovers herself and comes to terms with everything she knows about her father.
What are some of the more interesting things you have discovered or done in the rehearsal process?
We got to do a really exciting workshop with an intimacy coordinator. I am not involved in the scene of the show where the techniques were used but it was really interesting to learn the techniques that she uses to choreograph intimate moments in shows.
What is the most challenging part about your role or songs?
This role has been significantly more challenging than I expected. I felt like I had a solid understanding of the character and she show prior to rehearsals. Because I am onstage observing all of the other moments of the show, I have spent a lot more time delving into my emotional and character arc and it has been wonderful but definitely a challenge and certainly time-consuming. 
What have you learned about yourself from playing this role?
Alison talks candidly in the memoir and in interviews about how she didn’t know how to properly process her emotions for much of her life, especially following her father’s death. I identify with that so much. I have found this to be a very cathartic experience and, though I have a very different story and family life, I have learned a lot about myself and the way I handle emotional experiences whilst wading through Alison’s journey. 
What do you hope patrons will take away from their Fun Home experience?
I hope they enjoy the show but I also hope that they take away something deep and meaningful from this story. I think there are elements that everyone can connect with and I hope they are able to journey with us and walk away knowing themselves better. Three of you play the same character Alison Bechdel at 3 different ages. What has been your strategy amongst the three of you to assimilate this person? Any physical traits or gestures, you all have assumed?
We did a rehearsal where we all tried to see what gestures we were each using and tried to assimilate them across the three of us and get some physical consistency to Alison. As I am in the position of observing most scenes, I am in a good position to try to mimic and mirror the other two without seeming forced. I think we have discovered the character of Alison separately and when we came together we have worked to fill in the gaps to create a smooth transition from one Alison to the next and I’m excited about the growth we portray through her life. 

What attracted you to this role? To this musical?
I love musicals with substance. I think the lighthearted, just-for-fun musicals have their place but I think what makes musical theatre special is the ability of music to transcend the words and portray emotion and storytelling on another level. So, I am always drawn to musicals that utilize that technique and tell an engaging, moving, and emotional story.
What was your familiarity with FUN HOME?
My mother bought me Alison Bechdel’s graphic novel as a gift knowing only that it had something to do with some musical. I had heard of the musical but hadn’t really gotten into yet when I first read the memoir. I was so moved by the way she used the graphic novel genre to tell a completely different type of story. 

What can you tell us about your character?
Of the three iterations of Alison, she is the most at peace with who she is. She has grown into herself and she has already made a career as a “lesbian cartoonist.” However, she still hasn’t properly mourned the loss of her father. She starts the show very cavalier about her painful memories but as the story unfolds she rediscovers herself and comes to terms with everything she knows about her father.
What are some of the more interesting things you have discovered or done in the rehearsal process?
We got to do a really exciting workshop with an intimacy coordinator. I am not involved in the scene of the show where the techniques were used but it was really interesting to learn the techniques that she uses to choreograph intimate moments in shows.
What is the most challenging part about your role or songs?
This role has been significantly more challenging than I expected. I felt like I had a solid understanding of the character and she show prior to rehearsals. Because I am onstage observing all of the other moments of the show, I have spent a lot more time delving into my emotional and character arc and it has been wonderful but definitely a challenge and certainly time-consuming. 
What have you learned about yourself from playing this role?
Alison talks candidly in the memoir and in interviews about how she didn’t know how to properly process her emotions for much of her life, especially following her father’s death. I identify with that so much. I have found this to be a very cathartic experience and, though I have a very different story and family life, I have learned a lot about myself and the way I handle emotional experiences whilst wading through Alison’s journey. 
What do you hope patrons will take away from their Fun Home experience?
I hope they enjoy the show but I also hope that they take away something deep and meaningful from this story. I think there are elements that everyone can connect with and I hope they are able to journey with us and walk away knowing themselves better. 

Three of you play the same character Alison Bechdel at 3 different ages. What has been your strategy amongst the three of you to assimilate this person? Any physical traits or gestures, you all have assumed?
We did a rehearsal where we all tried to see what gestures we were each using and tried to assimilate them across the three of us and get some physical consistency to Alison. As I am in the position of observing most scenes, I am in a good position to try to mimic and mirror the other two without seeming forced. I think we have discovered the character of Alison separately and when we came together we have worked to fill in the gaps to create a smooth transition from one Alison to the next and I’m excited about the growth we portray through her life. 

Meet the Cast of FUN HOME: Behind the Curtain with Andy Lecture

Andy Lecture

Andy Lecture plays Roy and multiple characters and.is thrilled to be a part of this South Carolina premiere, with such a brilliant cast and crew! This is Andy’s second show with Proud Mary. He formerly appeared as Benny/Iona Traylor in “Southern Baptist Sissies”. Other favorite roles include: Jeffrey/Lamar in “Godspell” and Seymour Krelborn in “Little Shop of Horrors” (FIRE Theatre Co.), Jake in “Second Chance” (Centrestage), Isaac in “Beautiful Child” (Order of Furman Theatre), and ensemble in “RENT” and “Sweeney Todd: the Demon Barber of Fleet Street” (Furman University Pauper Players). During the day, Andy teaches students with Autism Spectrum Disorder at Project HOPE Foundation, and loves learning from his students and watching them grow. He also teaches colorguard at Riverside High School. Theatre, however, is where his heart truly lies. Thank you, once again, for all of your support, Sandy! Insta: @andyrlecture

What attracted you to this role? To this musical?
I actually got a message from Sandy after auditions had been held, because they needed to fill the role of Roy. I didn’t audition due to time constraints, but when Sandy asked, I knew I had to do it, and I’ve made it work! Fun Home is such a funny but beautiful show, and the story it tells is SO important – especially here in the South. My upbringing was nothing like that of Alison Bechdel’s, but so many of my gay friends had the same struggles she did, and I feel that story needs to be shared with people who otherwise wouldn’t know what that experience does to people like us. I wanted to be a part of Proud Mary sharing this story with the upstate!

What was your familiarity with FUN HOME?
I saw the touring production when it came to the Peace Center a couple of years ago. I absolutely loved that cast! Other than that, though, I hadn’t regularly listened to the soundtrack or anything until I started work with this production.

Have you read the memoir was based on?
I have not, but it is on my list! Just after reading Game of Thrones 😉

What can you tell us about your character?
My main character, Roy, seems fairly two dimensional in this show, because he is that “other guy”. From an audience perspective, that’s all you really get. But what I really like about playing all of my characters, is that they have their own sort of storyline to follow that sort of connect to each other. After Roy has a brief introduction in the beginning, I start off as Pete, who has a strictly business relationship with Bruce in the Fun Home. After that, I return as Roy, who has a casual but intimate relationship with him. Roy has to hide his sexuality so that Helen doesn’t catch on, and the literal hiding he does with Bruce through their various encounters is an interesting parallel to the typical “I haven’t come out to my family, I have to keep my boyfriend a secret” narrative that so many gay people experience. After I finish with Roy, I play Mark, who is a minor, and an unwilling participant to Bruce’s sexual exploration. In that way, my characters have this flow from professional to victim, and I find that to be pretty fascinating!

What are some of the more interesting things you have discovered or done in the rehearsal process?
I particularly enjoyed our movement exercise that we did, where we chose one line of script from the show and explored different ways of physically expressing it as we said it. I’m sad, though, that I missed our intimacy coaching session! From what I heard, I missed some pretty neat ways of ensuring everyone is comfortable during the rehearsal process.

What is the most challenging part about your role or songs?
“Raincoat of Love” is a fun song, but sits in the higher part of my range. Sometimes that A doesn’t come out the way I would like it to! Also, playing opposite Boyd (Bruce) has been somewhat of a challenge, because it’s hard to be that ‘other guy’. My challenge has been to make Roy likable despite that, particularly because Bruce’s kids like Roy so much. Making Helen like Roy is particularly hard, because she absolutely knows what’s going on, but it’s necessary to keep the family dynamic remain somewhat intact.

What have you learned about yourself from playing this role?
I’ve learned the incredible story of Allison Bechdel’s upbringing and life. Her story is so powerful.
That every person, and I mean EVERY PERSON, is worthy of their family’s love and acceptance, as long as they aren’t hurting anyone else. That the damage that not loving and accepting someone for who they are can truly tear a family apart, and have such a toll on them. But, we can remain resilient, strong, and true to our character. Allison is so strong to be able to grow from this experience, and to share it with the world.

Meet the Cast of Fun Home: Behind the Curtain with Kelly Davis

Kelly Davis plays Helen Bechdel in Fun Home.

Kelly is so proud to be making her debut with the Proud Mary Theatre Company!  

A recent transplant from New York City, Kelly has worked at the Milltown Players (Pump Boys & Dinettes, Seussical), Centre Stage (Red Herring), the Greenville Chorale (Alto II) and is a teaching artist with the Warehouse Theatre and SmartARTS program in Greenville.  

Kelly holds a BFA in Acting with a minor in Musical Theatre from Marymount Manhattan College and studied Shakespeare and classical theatre at the British American Dramatic Academy in London.  New York Theatre Credits include: The Crucible (Abigail), Six Degrees of Separation (Tess), Children of Eden (Aysha), King Lear (Gloucester) and the title role in Cymbelline.  

When not on stage, Kelly teaches yoga and manages the family business Palmetto State Solar.  She wishes to thank her amazingly supportive husband, Aaron and 3 fur children: Cheeky, Gizmo, and Orlando Fernando.

What attracted you to this role? To this musical?
Helen is the role of a lifetime.  She is based on a real character with juicy scenes and has an “11:00 number”!  I also feel that Fun Home is a unique musical and sheds light on some topics that aren’t traditionally discussed in the theatre.  This makes it so very important to produce in this day and age.

What was your familiarity with FUN HOME?
Prior to auditions, I had only heard Ring of Keys.  I didn’t realize there was a role for me!  When I got a call back for Helen, I listened to the original recording and was immediately hooked.

Have you read the memoir was based on?
I am in the middle of it!

What can you tell us about your character?
I play Allison’s mom, Helen.  Helen Bechdel was a real person who lived from 1933-2013.  She was married to Bruce and had 3 children.  Helen tries her best to keep up appearances and tend to her family, however Bruce’s unpredictable rage takes its toll on her.  Helen finds solace in acting and doing plays.  The real Helen Bechdel was very active in local theatre as a performer and costumer.  

What are some of the more interesting things you have discovered or done in the rehearsal process?
We had a theatrical intimacy coach come to rehearsal.  She taught us some ways to connect physically with one another in ways that respected our boundaries.  This is an important tool that I will continue to use going forward.  

What is the most challenging part about your role or songs?
The music is so very moving, and I am often overcome with emotion when I’m trying to sing!  I’ve had to keep singing my song (Days) over and over to try and desensitize myself, but I tend to get choked up at a different point each night, which makes it difficult to get the notes out!

What have you learned about yourself from playing this role?

This is one of my first musicals in about a decade.  As a result, I am emerging as an actress in a totally new type than I was before.  I have spent most of my life as an alto, but I have discovered that my voice has matured and I am able to sing a more legit style soprano.  Approaching this role, I have been able to identify what warmup routines (vocally, physically and emotionally) that get me to the place I need to be for the show.

What do you hope patrons will take away from their Fun Home experience?

I hope that patrons will be swept up in the story and take this journey with us.  There will be moments of laughter and possibly tears!  


What other talents have you summoned to play this part?

I have summoned my piano knowledge from when I was a kid.  I took lessons when I was little and then stopped when I was about 13.  It has been very rewarding to play a little bit for this show.