BWW Review: FUN HOME Swaggers into Heinz Hall
Imagine growing up as a closeted lesbian with a closeted gay father. Try explaining that one to your mother! Through the eyes of daughter Alison, the Bechdel family's story comes to life in Fun Home.
Fun Home is an inspirational musical comedy with some heartbreaking, tender moments. As a lesbian cartoonist recalling her past, Alison (Kate Shindle) narrates the plot, captioning events on stage with captions from her graphic novel of the same name. Her childhood unfolds through Small Alison (Alessandra Baldacchino), and her college years shine through Medium Alison (Abby Corrigan).
Both of the younger Alison's breathe life into their roles, allowing the fully imagined Alison to take her form as a snarky and omnipotent present, chiming in at different points in the show. Ms. Baldacchino and Ms. Corrigan have resonating voices that are clear and pronounced. Some sour notes from other cast members sprinkled the performance, but that did not take away from the passion and emotion that all displayed.
Unlike its Tony Award-winning Broadway production, the touring production is staged in a proscenium arrangement. The Broadway theatre in the round staging offered a very intimate look into the Bechdels' lives, but the adaptation back to a simple proscenium stage loses some of the raw emotions. Certainly, this is no fault of the wonderfully talented actors themselves, but rather an unavoidable issue of presentation.
Other technical aspects did aid the emotional presentation, though. Simple orchestrations and sets drew more attention to the cast members, allowing them to either shine in the wonderfully designed lighting or collapse under the weight of emotions.
This groundbreaking show does not shy away from the still-controversial topic of sexuality, but instead it tackles the subject head on and from multiple angles. Fun Home also works around the universal frameworks of family and love - the sensitive subjects that elicit everything from a cackle to a weep in this show.
The one-act musical may not be appeal to all audiences, but its themes transcend generations and cultural groups. We see Alison grow up and regress in only a matter of moments as she grapples with her life in front of a packed house. For those attending, the show is worth the watch. As Alison and her siblings sing, "Come to the Fun Home!"
To see or not to see score: 6/9; Moderately Recommended Show
Photo Credit: Joan Marcus