Karen Olivo as a director at UW-Madison (copy)

Karen Olivo, shown here directing the 2015 summer production "Fugitive Songs" at UW-Madison's University Theatre, will star in Forward Theater's "Fun Home" this fall.

The big excitement surrounding Forward Theater Company this season is its staging of “Fun Home,” the company’s first musical, which will star Madison’s own Tony Award-winner, Karen Olivo, a veteran of “Hamilton” in Chicago.

“It was very exciting to see how fast those (tickets) were disappearing,” Forward’s artistic director and co-founder Jennifer Uphoff Gray said the day after tickets went on sale last month.

“Fun Home,” running November 1-25 in the Playhouse at Overture Center, is selling well, but there are plenty of tickets left. Still, the theater company saw its record for single ticket sales blown “out of the water,” Uphoff Gray said.

Prior to this season, the best-selling show on Forward’s single-ticket “on sale” date was “I and You” by Lauren Gunderson with 36 tickets sold. But, this year, “Skeleton Crew” beat that with 90, said Scott Haden, Forward’s director of marketing.

“Skeleton Crew,” running through Sept. 23 in the Playhouse at Overture Center, is a four-character play set in 2008, at the height of the Great Recession. It’s set in the break room of a failing Detroit auto parts plant and looks at how a group of black workers processes losing their livelihoods.

“Without ‘Fun Home,’ the record would have belonged to “Skeleton Crew,” Haden said about the single-ticket sales first-day record. However, “Fun Home” surpassed all previous shows and set the all-time record with 462 tickets sold on the same day.

All told, Forward sold 673 single tickets on Aug. 13 for the 2018-19 season, beating its previous record of 89. “It was a good day!” Haden said by email.

Haden said Forward doesn’t typically give out exact sales numbers, but as of Tuesday, had sold more than 4,000 tickets (including subscriptions) for “Fun Home,” with nearly 47 percent of seats still available.

There are more performances of “Fun Home” than a typical Forward show. Forward added an extra week to the run with a total of seven additional performances. The majority of the tickets left are during the extended week of performances, November 20-25, Haden said.

“This was done in anticipation of the popularity of the show, which is something we’ve never done before,” Haden said.

Being at almost 50 percent sold with an added week means Forward’s sold more tickets to “Fun Home” than any other production at this point in its season. The Tony Award-winning musical was adapted from Alison Bechdel’s autobiographical 2006 graphic memoir and is the first Broadway musical with a lesbian protagonist.

“After her father dies unexpectedly, Alison dives deep into her past to tell the story of the volatile, brilliant, one-of-a-kind man whose temperament and secrets defined her family and her life,” according to a Playbill summary of the musical.

Forward sold more than 3,800 tickets (72 percent of tickets) to “Skeleton Crew.” As of Tuesday, a few tickets remained for the Sept. 23 2 p.m. performance.


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