Prior Peter Funk Describes His Musical Experience

Aeva Ver Boort, Staff Writer, Advanced Journalism

The Online Tritonian caught up with another Bye Bye Birdie star, Prior Peter Funk (APHS ’88), now in Chicago.


1. When did you first realize you wanted to be in musicals?

“I was recruited to play trombone in the pit band for a production of 1776 when I was a high school freshman. It was fun (and I played in many, many pit bands after that), but I realized that I wanted to be on stage.

2. What was your favorite part about the musical?

It’s not easy to choose, but I enjoyed working with very talented people: John McKee (Mr. Mcafee), Nicole Brunette (Rosie), and the director David Lontkowski. I also enjoyed dancing in general, but especially “Put On a Happy Face,” which was  big number.

3. What character did you play?


4. Favorite song to perform?

Either “Put On a Happy Face” or “Rosie,” the finale.

5. What was the most challenging part of playing your character?

This one is not hard at all! The last scene contains a monologue that Albert delivers to Rosie in the course of proposing to her. It’s very long, and quite a challenge not to lose the audience (or bore the actress on stage with you–maybe she’ll say no…) while delivering it as if you were just thinking of it on the spot.

I actually found Albert to be a congenial character for me, but that scene I must have rehearsed with Dave fifty or sixty times. We spent hours on that monologue.

6. What was the best part about playing your character?

Romantic lead! I got to wear a nice suit and do some classy dancing.

7. What made you want to try out for Bye Bye Birdie?

Dave directing was a big draw. I worked with him at APHS on South Pacific the previous spring, and I thought that he was a great director and that I could learn a lot working with him. And, to be completely honest, I was looking for an excuse to hang out with Academy girls more.

8. What was the last musical you performed in?

I played guitar in the pit for Pippen. The last time I was on stage, I played Hero in Sondheim’sA Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.

9. What have you done since high school ended?

I received a degree in music from the University of Chicago, conducted choirs and played for three years in a local Chicago band called OM. I then entered the Monastery of the Holy Cross in 1997, where I have been the community’s superior since 2004.

10. How often do you come back to Green Bay?

I try to get back once or twice each year. I have one sister who lives there with her family, and my mother lives near Denmark, WI.

11. Are you still in touch with fellow alum?

Yes—but maybe because of Facebook more than anything. Monks don’t go out a lot, but we maintain a community page linked to an account in my name, so people find me. I’m always glad to hear from fellow alumni. I’m even friends with a couple of Premontre grads ;-).