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Review: FUN HOME National Tour at Durham Performing Arts Center

Based on the 2006 graphic memoir by Alison Bechdel, Fun Home tells the true story of Bechdel discovering her own sexuality, her relationship with her gay father, and her attempts to unlock the mysteries surrounding his life.

After a successful run at The Public Theatre off-Broadway in the fall of 2013, the musical moved uptown to Broadway on April 19th, 2015 where it ran for 582 performances after closing on September 10th, 2016. It went on to win 5 Tony Awards (including Best Musical). It also marked the first time in history that an all-female writing team (composer Jeanine Tesori and lyricist Lisa Kron) won the Tony for Best Original Score.

If you read my opening paragraph, you'd realize that Fun Home is not a fun musical (no pun intended). Though one of the many things that book writer Lisa Kron does very well is working in some comic relief so that no one in the audience will feel depressed the whole time. She also very successfully created a throughline that goes back and forth between storylines involving Small Alison and Medium Alison. The writing she's done works so well, that it almost comes across more as a great play with music than an actual musical.

Under the direction of Sam Gold, this national touring production currently playing at the Durham Performing Arts Center through October 30th is not the kind of production that features all the bells and whistles. Though Ben Stanton's incredible lighting does feel very essential to the storytelling and David Zinn's set does have such an eye-popping moment near the end of the show. It instead relies more on the incredible cast of actors to tell the story. The performances of every single cast member literally feels so real and captivating. The whole story is told from the perspective of Alison Bechdel played by Kate Shindle (who I swear never leaves the stage at all during the show's 100 minute runtime). We also see Small Alison played very maturely by 10-year-old Alessandra Baldacchino and Medium Alison played by Abby Corrigan as she discovers her sexuality (she even has a funny song that should have audiences laughing). Robert Petkoff and Susan Moniz respective performances as Alison's parents Bruce and Helen Bechdel should also leave audiences devastated by the end.

While the show itself may not be for everyone, people with open minds like me should come to the Fun Home. I don't think you'll ever find another extraordinary work quite like this!

For more information regarding the tour, please visit:

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