Actor and playwright Lisa Kron and composer and arranger Jeanine Tesori have both earned many awards from even more nominations. Kron’s list of awards includes three Obies and a Pulitzer Prize nomination. Tesori, the most prolific woman composer on Broadway, has won Drama Desk Awards, and received four Tony nominations.
Each is formidable in her own right, but this past Monday, together, they achieved a first. They were the First Women to win a Tony Award as an all-female writing team, for the book and music for Fun Home. It has been 24 years since two women were even considered. In 1991 Lucy Simon and Marsha Norman were nominated for the musical adaption of The Secret Garden. Only two years ago, in 2013, Cyndi Lauper won a Tony for the music and lyrics for Kinky Boots, becoming the First Woman to win Best Score without a male collaborator.
Fun Home also claims a first, the first Broadway musical with a lesbian protagonist. The show is a testament to perseverance. It took Alison Bechdel seven years to create the autobiographical graphic novel on which the book is based. Then it took five years for Kron and Tesori to develop the book and music. The musical played in lab and off-Broadway, winning awards even before making it to Broadway.
Fun Home is the story of a young woman exploring her sexuality, while her own father explores his. Beth Malone, who plays Alison Bechdel in the musical was nominated for a Tony as Leading Actress in a Musical and Judy Kuhn, who plays Alison’s mother, was nominated for a Tony as an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical.
The musical won an Obie, a Drama Critics’ Circle Award and a Tony for Best Musical. It was also nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for Drama.
Dramatic Aside (a “Curious” and “Fun” Question): In 2015 the Tony for Best Musical (Fun Home) and the Tony for Best Play (The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time) were both for works based on literature. I wonder how often that happens?