Review: "Fun Home" at 4th Wall Theater

Sarah Gordin

  • Contributing Critic

Fun Home won the Tony Award for Best Musical back in 2015. This story of a female coming to terms with her sexuality amidst her father’s relationships with men and underage boys is now being produced by community theatres nationwide. I was curious to see if 4th Wall Theatre would give the show the justice it deserved. With Kate Swan’s direction and the cast, it did more than that. 

 Photo: Tom Schopper

Photo: Tom Schopper

The show is performing at The Studio Playhouse in Montclair, a small intimate theatre. When the audience entered the seating area; the stage was bare except for three blank white panels in the back. These panels would serve as the main scenery for the show, having different backdrops and furniture attached to the other two sides. By the end of the show, the panels were blank again providing the audience with a full circle experience to show that the scenes were flashbacks in Alison's mind. These panels were a smart way to use the small space to its largest capacity without having to carry in lots of different pieces for scene changes.

Additionally, in the downstage corner was a desk where Allison sat throughout the play, watching. Above her was a screen used to show projections, created by Miranda Kelley, of her drawings. This space was also used for the piano that is played in the show by some of the characters. 

I thought the biggest standout was Samy Cordero as Medium Allison with her impeccable comedic timing and expressive voice as she sang, “Changing My Major,” with confidence and conviction. Annika Bergstrom-Shaw as Small Allison was a very talented actor throughout the show. She commanded the stage during the famous anthem, “Ring of Keys.” Sarah Levine McClelland played Allison, a fly on the wall throughout the piece, as she watched her younger selves navigate life. She had a comfortable presence on stage and even when off to the side, was always actively watching. Ted Cancila as Bruce played the part well showing both his love for his children and his inner demons. Julie Stiel as Helen was hard to understand and hear as she sang her part in, “Welcome to our House on Maple Avenue.” However, her performance improved as she sang, “Days and Days,” stunningly. 

While there were some stumbles, it was opening night, this is a high-quality production that should be seen before it closes on June 17th. Additionally, this production lines up in June for Pride Month! Support local theatre and enjoy the show!