The tour has been traveling around the country for a year. “A full year,” says Moniz. “We opened in Cleveland last October.” She spoke last week from Boston, and the tour arrives at Proctors in Schenectady on Oct. 31, playing eight performances through Nov. 5. (Here’s ticket info.)
Moniz notes that it does get tiring living out of hotel rooms, “but it’s been wonderful being able to visit everywhere. I’d never been to Seattle and had friends there to visit. I visited friends in L.A., and I haven’t been in Boston in years. Right now we’re doing a lot of one-weekers, so you have to prioritize your sight-seeing a little more. You try to get a little flavor of every city. It’s what makes it fun.”
Stepping freshly into a role just created by someone else can be a challenge, “but we were given so much freedom,” she says. “We were able to have the original production people: Sam Gold, the original director, came in and directed us, and Jeanine Tesori and Lisa Kron were there, too. And they were able to guide us to a wonderful direction for the show and also give us the freedom to make it our own, so you never felt hemmed in by someone else’s performance.”
“Fun Home” tells the story of Bechdel’s childhood in rural Pennsylvania, and the challenge of coming out as a lesbian even as her father reveals his own homosexual past. The novel has been pulled from a few schools and library shelves, but the touring musical has been very well received. “In San Francisco, we had off-the-charts reactions,” Moniz says. “When we were in Nashville, it was a little more conservative. You have some people who really know the show and are thrilled to finally see it, and you have some people who are still absorbing what they just saw. We’ve never had what I’d say is a bad audience.”
Moniz was born and raised in Rhode Island, and found herself drawn to theater from an early age, “even though I was incredibly shy as a child. I would direct my siblings in the backyard with their friends, but I wouldn’t be in it. I wanted to, but I didn’t have the courage. Once I hit high school, I finally took the opportunity, and I loved it. It was where I found home. Where I felt much more comfortable and happy.” She performed in school shows and community theater, but began Rhode Island College as an art major, “because I thought that was the smarter choice. But that didn’t last very long, and I ended up pursuing theater.”
|Kate Shindle, Abby Corrigan, and Carly Gold in Fun Home|
Photo by Joan Marcus
She has appeared on Broadway in “Grease,” and among her many Chicago-area credits are the musicals “Follies,” “The Wiz,” “West Side Story, “ ”Romance/Romance,” “Showboat,” “Carousel,” “Anna Karenina,” “Kismet,” “Peggy Sue Got Married,” “Into the Woods,” “Oklahoma!,” and “October Sky.” She says she didn’t set out to specialize in musicals, “but it’s one of those things that fell into place. I do straight theater as well, but when someone offers you a job, you take the path of least resistence. So I’ve done the majority of my work in musicals.”
She has a side-business that was born in theater, “because I always loved to bake and I’d make special cookies for opening nights. So I make cookie molds. I don’t make the actual cookies, although I do it for friends and family, but I create custom and unique designs. They’re fun. I have a great time.” You can see her work at her website. “This gives me a lot of joy, because it goes back to my art years – so I said why not? Let’s see where it goes.
But her favorite pursuit is performing in new works, like “Fun Home.” “That’s more exciting, I think, than anything else. To create something new, and discover it for the first time. That’s what really gets the creative juices flowing.”
“Fun Home” will be performed at Proctors in Schenectady at 7:30 PM Oct. 31 and Nov. 1; 8 PM Nov 2, 3, and 4; 1:30 PM Nov. 2; and 2 PM Nov. 4 and 5.