The first tour of Fun Home landed in Minneapolis last night for a week long run. I was lucky enough to see the show on Broadway earlier this year, and I was both excited to see the show again and nervous about the changes that come with any transition from Broadway to a National Tour. In this case the changes were more significant. On Broadway Fun Home ran at Circle in the Square, a 776 seat theater, and was performed in the round. On tour Fun Home is being performed on proscenium stages in theaters that are often larger than 2500 seats (Minneapolis's Orpheum Theater has 2600). Fun Home's transition to the proscenium was handled well, it helps that it was developed off Broadway on a Proscenium stage, at the Public Theater (the same theater that introduced the world to Hamilton). In fact there were things that added to show with the presentation on a proscenium such as use of shadows that wasn't possible in the round. I do think however that something is lost in the size of the theater. This is a very intimate story, and although the story does grab you and pull you in there is something lost in the added physical distance between the audience and the stage.
Fun Home, for those who are not familiar, is based on the graphic novel memoir of the same name written by Alison Bechdel. The musical shows the process of Alison writing the graphic novel and follows small Alison and medium Alison as she reflects on her relationship with her father, her own coming out process, the revelation that her father had relationships with men, and the many complicated relationships within the family. Although not everyone has a coming out story to relate to, everyone does have a family and has at one point or another wanted something deeply. This is why, although I cannot directly relate to all the plot points of the show, after the bows I found myself in much the same state I did after I saw the show on Broadway; in need of repeated deep breaths. Performed in 90 minutes without an intermission, it seems that the show just flies by. You don't have a 15 minute break to take you out of the story, which only makes the story so much more effective. There are theater pieces that are short and sweet and fun to behold, and then there are pieces like this that stick with you and keep you thinking.
An intimate and touching show like this one could not be pulled off without stellar performances. Outside those who originated the roles and assisted in the creation of Fun Home, very few people have played these characters. But the touring cast is a cohesive unit, and carries on the mantle of the Bechdel family well. Kate Shindle takes on the role of Alison, Alessandra Balacchino is Small Alison and her performance of "Ring of Keys" beautifully reflects the type of revelations that you make while growing up. Abby Corrigan is the stand out for me, she brought so much humor in the awkwardness that comes with transition in her role of Medium Alison. Robert Petkoff and Susan Moniz play Alison's parents, Bruce and Helen. Both characters have fantastic eleven o'clock numbers in "Days and Days" and "Edges of the World." which cumulate all we have been shown about Bruce and Helen. Petkoff and Moniz perform their respective songs with all the raw emotion that this show demands.
Fun Home is a dark and funny show that is full of truths applicable to anyone who has ever grown up or had a family. It is running at the Orpheum Theater thru Sunday December 18th.
The cast of Fun Home. Photo by Joan Marcus.
Also if you want to learn more about the show check out my new favorite podcast, Broadway Backstory, and listen to their episode about Fun Home and the creation of the show here. Also a great video feature that Broadway.com did about the music of Fun Home here.
Thank you to Hennepin Theatre Trust for inviting me to this performance.