We launched rehearsals for Fun Home on Tuesday and I thought it would be fun to introduce you to the cast with photos taken by me!
The story centers around Alison Bechdel, the lesbian graphic artist, and in the musical the character is played by three different actresses representing three different ages.
Aida Valentine (Small Alison) is a Portland native who was most recently seen in Flora and Ulysses and James and the Giant Peach at Oregon Children’s Theatre; she was last seen onstage here at The Armory in Our Town. She has also performed with NW Children’s Theater, Lakewood, Stumptown Stages and Portland Opera.
Sara Masterson plays Alison as a college freshman (Medium Alison) and grew up outside of Cleveland, Ohio, and graduated from the musical theater program at Baldwin-Wallace College. Favorite roles include Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, Joanna Wilkes in Big River and Sorel in Hay Fever.
Allison Mickelson plays adult Alison and grew up in Pierre, South Dakota (which she taught us to pronounce correctly as ‘Pier’). In addition to performing in musical theater (favorites including Ragtime, Mame and Damn Yankees), Allison teaches yoga and art, conducts choirs, and is the art and worship liaison for the Middle Collegiate Church in the East Village.
Much of the play centers on Alison’s attempt to understand her complicated relationship with her father. Robert Mammana, who you’ll remember as Sky Masterson in our production of Guys and Dolls and Father in Ragtime, plays Bruce, the Dad. You may have seen Robert on The Good Wife, The Office, Elementary, or if you were lucky, Days of Our Lives. But you could also have seen him in the National Tours of Showboat or The Sound of Music, or on Broadway in Les Miserables. He was also a police officer for the city of Los Angeles for four years.
Faith Sandberg (Helen, Alison's mom) grew up outside of D.C. and then Utah, and studied at Webster Conservatory and then the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts. You may have seen her on Boardwalk Empire, Quantico or The Following. Favorite roles include Molly in Peter and The Starcatcher, Sophia in Tom Jones, Coco in Miss Saigon and Roxy in Chicago.
Kristen DiMercurio, plays Joan (the girl Alison falls for) and is a recent graduate of Emerson College in Boston. Favorite roles include Christina in Fefu and Her Friends, Ellen/Victoria in Cloud 9, Patty in Grease and Sara in Murder Ballad.
Joe Knispel plays Roy, Mark, Pete and Bobby Jeremy and hails from Nebraska (and is a serious Cornhuskers fan). Joe trained at the Asolo/Florida State Conservatory and has enjoyed roles in The Grapes of Wrath, Oklahoma! (Curly), Twelfth Night, Ah, Wilderness and All The Way.
Karsten George is a Portland native and plays Alison’s older brother, Christian. Most recently he played Pugsley in The Addams Family at Broadway Rose, Young Guido in Nine at Lakewood Theater, and Megatroid the Elf in Peppermint Bear. He has been a featured soloist with the Portland Boychoir and Pacific Youth Choir.
Theo Curl plays Alison’s younger brother, John, and is also from Portland. Favorite recent roles include the Egyptian Mummy in Dig It, the Musical at Ridgewood Elementary; and Hansel in Castletales at NW Children’s Theater.
Alexa Shaheen (Small Alison Understudy) is a 13-year-old eighth grader at Lakeridge Junior High. She's recently performed in Portland Opera's Tosca and The Magic Flute, Lady Larken in Once Upon a Mattress at French Woods Festival of the Performing Arts and Tina Denmark in Ruthless! The Musical for Stumptown Stages, and several roles at Lakewood Theatre Company.
Here we go.
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Portland Center Stage at The Armory inspires our community by bringing stories to life in unexpected ways. It is the largest theater company in Portland and among the top 20 regional theaters in the country. Established in 1988 as a branch of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, the company became independent in 1994. Around 150,000 visitors attend The Armory annually to enjoy a mix of classical, contemporary and world premiere productions, along with the annual JAW: A Playwrights Festival, and a variety of high quality education and community programs. Home to two theaters, The Armory was the first building on the National Register of Historic Places — and the first performing arts venue in the country — to achieve a LEED Platinum rating.