Readers who remember Express Gay News, SFGN publisher Norm Kent’s first LGBT community newspaper may also recall “Dykes to Watch,” the popular cartoons of Alison Bechdel that could also be found in each issue. The lesbian artist went on to publish a graphic novel about her life with a closeted gay father, “Fun Home,” that became a Tony Award-winning Broadway musical.
Beth Malone was the Tony-nominated actress who told Bechdel’s story eight times a week. This weekend, she’ll take the stage of the Colony Theatre in Miami Beach to tell her own story. “So Far” is being presented as part of the Aqua Girl weekend and proceeds benefit the Aqua Foundation for Women.
Malone describes the show as “a musical journey from growing up in rural Colorado to becoming an out lesbian protagonist on Broadway” punctuated by the music of Foreigner, Journey, LeAnn Rimes and, of course, some show tunes.
“It’s funny and you’ll find yourself recognizing your own stories in my own specific weird tale,” Malone explained, especially if you grew up in the 1980s. “I grew up in a musical household—redneck-y, but musical—my mom was a sort of country music singer. I found ‘Singing in the Rain’ on TV one day and thought, oh my God, there’s my people!”
Malone eventually made the big move to New York City where she waited in audition lines, hoping for her big break.
“I didn’t have an agent. I was trying to date girls while having a fiancé who was waiting for me to marry him. It was a precarious existence in the ‘90s,” she recalled.
Her “big break” did come when she was hired to do a reading of a new show called “Fun Home,” based on the life of the lesbian cartoonist Bechdel, just “a script that was being tossed around and worked on.”
There wasn’t much pressure, as the actors routinely ripped out 30 pages of script each night and substituted in new songs with just hours of practice. They finally moved the show Off Broadway and then Broadway and the rest is showbiz history.
Malone said “Fun Home” is much more than just an entertaining show.
“This show is a musical and a social outreach program. The show has saved countless lives. I say that, but I’m not kidding a little bit,” she emphasized. “The stage door was an incredible second act (‘Fun Home’ is performed in just one act). You have to take your time with each individual as they tell you their stories, spill their guts with you.”
Malone took a moment and then completed her thought: “The world is changing and growing and being gay supposedly ‘isn’t even a thing’ anymore…but, I told the New York Times I’ve had so many experiences to the contrary right there at the stage door. I shot down the reporter’s whole argument. It’s been proven in the latest election.”
Beth Malone performs her one woman show, “So Far,” on Saturday, May 20 at 8 p.m. at the Colony Theatre, 1040 Lincoln Road in Miami Beach. Tickets start at $49 at ColonyMB.com/BethMalone.