- OnStage St. Louis Critic
The story of Alison Bechdel and her family was first told via graphic novel in her biography, then it made a move to the stage in a musical (Jeanine Tesori for music and Lisa Kron for book and lyrics). The musical was a success and ran on Broadway and launched a tour. In “Fun Home” she covered topics like her own story of coming out to her family, growing up in her family run funeral home, and her finding out that her father was gay. Adult themes are covered so this show may not be appropriate for all ages, but the topics covered are important and will open a lot of discussions on the ride home.
The original Broadway production was performed in the round, so I was interested on how they would make the changes to fit the proscenium stages found in most touring houses. Under the direction of Sam Gold, choreography by Danny Mefford, and scenic and costume design by David Zinn this production hits the mark. Starting with a simple platform to show ‘upstairs’ and to house the band, set pieces are then rolled out to fit the time frame the audience is seeing. The use of lighting is also important as squares light up around characters emphasizing that this is part of Alison’s drawing.
The character of Alison is split into 3 parts referred to as small “Alison” (Alessandra Baldacchino), medium “Alison” (Abby Corrigan) and “Alison” (Kate Shindle). The story flashes back and forth between childhood, small “Alison”, and college years, medium “Alison” with adult version chiming in with hindsight trying to ‘caption’ the story panel the audience is seeing now and narrating. Baldacchino’s small “Alison” is funny and drew a long applause from the audience with the song “Ring of Keys”. Corrigan played witty and awkward perfectly, the average college age person with some big discovery happening. Her song “Changing my Major” was a crowd favorite. Shindle is powerful as the adult “Alison”, I connected the characters emotion of looking back and making sense of the past.
Other important characters and standout actors are Alison’s father “Bruce” (Robert Petkoff), her mother “Helen” (Susan Moniz), and her first girlfriend “Joan” (Karen Eilbacher). The whole cast came together wonderfully and told this story with care and honesty. The song “Come to the Fun Home” got a lot of laughs and showed off the talent of the younger cast members.
Somethings you may want to know about this production before you go. There is no intermission so be prepared when the lights go down. The cast is collecting for the fantastic charity Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDs after the performance. Bring some money if you are interested in some rare collector items like signed posters, weaved bracelets from costumes, and the traced picture that Shindle drew on stage.
I would recommend this production to everyone with a family since most of the audience can relate to family secrets coming out, and growing into your own person. You can catch Fun Home on tour all around the country. For ticket and show information check out funhomebroadway.com