Lesbian heroine, profane puppet make it on broad-minded Broadway

Fri May 1, 2015 4:47pm EDT
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By Patricia Reaney

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A lesbian coming-out musical and a comedy about a teenager with an out-of-control, foul-mouthed sock puppet are proving that the off-kilter can kill it on Broadway and bring in a younger, edgier audience.

"Fun Home," adapted from lesbian cartoonist Alison Bechdel's graphic novel, led this week's Tony nominations with 12 nods, along with the post-World War Two musical "An American in Paris," showing the diversity and scope of Broadway productions.

Actor Steven Boyer's portrayal of a shy adolescent in a Christian Puppet Ministry in Texas, whose life is overshadowed by a demonic hand puppet in "Hand to God," could clinch a best acting award at the Tony Awards in New York on June 7.

"Every few years you get some new show that creates a different landscape. Think back to when 'Rent' came to Broadway," said Charlotte St. Martin, the executive director of The Broadway League, which represents producers and theater owners.

"This year 'Hand to God' and 'Fun Home' are bringing a new medium to theater," she added.

Along with the play "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time," a coming-of-age story about a teenager named Christopher Boone with Asperger syndrome, the shows are giving a voice to mainly unrepresented people in adventurous productions.

"I think it helps people understand autism more but it is also a story about bravery and difference and accepting differences and feeling excluded," said Alex Sharp, who plays Boone and will compete with Boyer for the best acting prize.