FUN HOME REVIEW – Emotion-Packed Musical Goes from Broadway to National Tour

The Tony Award winning musical, Fun Home closed its Broadway run on September 19th, but audiences around the country are fortunate, since its national tour begins in October. Theatre-goers will be able to enjoy this emotionally-charged, thought-provoking musical as it traverses the U.S.



Fun Home at Circle in the Square - Photo by Joan Marcus


With book & lyrics by Lisa Kron and music by JeanineTesori, Fun Home is based on the autobiographical, bestselling graphic novel written by Alec Bechdel. The show originally opened off-Broadway at The Public Theatre in 2013 and after stunning reviews and numerous awards was reimagined by director Sam Gold for Broadway’s Circle in the Square in 2015. Changing from a proscenium stage to an in-the-round format made it seem much more intimate and attracted additional praise and awards.


Fun Home garnered five of the fourteen Tonys for which it was nominated, including Best Musical, Best Direction of a Musical, Best Book of a Musical, and Best Original Score.


Beth Malone and Emily Skeggs - Photo by Jenny Anderson


The show begins with forty-something artist Alison (Beth Malone) at work drawing, as she remembers her life and the strong impact her father had on her. Right at the beginning she tells us, "Dad and I both grew up in the same small Pennsylvania town. And he was gay, and I was gay, and he killed himself, and I became a lesbian cartoonist."


Wow, that’s a unique way to start a musical! Bizarre though it may seem, from there it takes us on a gripping ride and never lets up.



Fun Home - Photo by Joan Marcus


In the first musical number “Welcome to our House on Maple Avenue” we are introduced to the family and realize that Alison’s dad, Bruce (Michael Cerveris), is a fastidious micromanager who wants everything perfectly in place and even facing in the proper direction. As if this could cover up the secrets that he himself is keeping.  



The three Alisons in Fun Home


The rest of the powerful story and all its emotions are revealed as we see Alison revisit scenes of Small Alison at 10-years-old and Medium Alison at 17, along with her family and their daily lives.


Small Alison (Gabriella Pizzolo) is a tomboy who spends time fooling around with her brothers, John (Zell Steele Morrow) and Christian (Cole Grey) at the Funeral Home her dad runs – and which the kids have dubbed “fun home”.


The three children grow up amidst the caskets, and even create a mock commercial where they playfully jump in and out of a coffin singing, “Come to the Fun Home.” 



Oscar Williams, Zell Steele Morrow and Sydney Lucas as the kids - Photo by Joan Marcus


In addition to running the funeral parlor, Bruce is a high school English teacher. He also takes great pride in restoring his Victorian home and hosting tours through it. Both of these things afford him opportunities to meet young men and invite them over for covert liaisons. His wife Helen (Judy Kuhn) knows it, but has looked the other way for years.


Cast of Fun Home - Photo by Joan Marcus


Small Alison doesn’t know why she hates wearing dresses, but feelings start to surface when she sees a swaggering delivery woman with a “Ring of Keys.” Later, away at college, Medium Alison (Emily Skegg) confronts her blossoming sexuality, which leads to the show’s best song and refrain, “I’m Changing My Major to Joan.”  When Alison accepts her lesbianism and tries to tell her father, it’s at the same time heartwarming and heart wrenching. Especially since it’s just four months later that Bruce commits suicide by stepping in front of a truck.


This is all unusual fodder for a musical, but it has been striking chords with everyone who sees it.  Don’t we all have dysfunctional families in one way or another?  It’s an involving, intelligent and provocative show with songs that are deep and insightful, and remarkable scenes that will be remembered just as middle-aged cartoonist Alison related them to us. 



Rebecca Luker and Laura Patton in Fun Home - Photo by Joan Marcus


One only wonders why Helen would have stayed with her husband Bruce so long, knowing the truth.  She’s known since they were first married as we learn in “Shortly After We Were Married.” Her next song is the powerful “Days and Days” that can resonate with many unfulfilled wives.


Still, the main force of the show is Alison’s need to come to terms with her unfulfilled relationship with her father, and wanting emotional closure. Although her story is a personal one, it’s also universal, which is why it’s been so successful and touches so many people.  Our hearts reach out to her, since we all want what she craves – acceptance and love.


Gabriella Pizollo and Michael Cerveris - Photo by Joan Marcus


Fun Home may not be filled with memories like those from your home – but it’s one you will remember for years to come.  Culturally relevant, thought-provoking and out-of-the-box, it’s a show to put on your calendar to see when it comes to your hometown.


Fun Home Official Site

Tour Dates & Cities


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