Memories like puzzle pieces
Based on the graphic novel by Alison Bechdel and coming from Broadway on this national tour, Fun Home is about Alison piecing together her memories to create her novel about her father. The musical presents Alison in three stages of her life: narrator and present day Alison played by Kate Shindle, Medium/college age Alison played by Abby Corrigan, and Small/child Alison played by Alessandra Baldacchino.
Each of these actresses gives their Alison a unique personality that shows the changes a person goes through as they grow up. Shindle gives us a mature Alison looking back on her life and offers us analysis and guidance. Corrigan reminds us of the journey of discovering who you are by playing college age Alison in a delightfully awkward way. Finally, Baldacchino shows us how our childhoods shape who we are and does so with an unbelievably strong and powerful voice.
Medium and Small Alison give us snapshots of Alison’s memories to help narrator Alison understand their father.
Fun Home moves as though it is a memory process itself by switching between life stages, bouncing from one memory to the next. This method allows the musical to abandon chronological order and piece scenes together like memories themselves often do. Moving back and forth between Small and Medium Alison helps these memories fit together and creates connections for both the audience and narrator Alison to see.
Putting the “fun” in funeral
Established at the beginning, Alison’s father, Bruce (Robert Petkoff), was killed by an oncoming truck on a highway. Though it was classified as an accident, Alison and her family are not so sure it was. She believes he had an internal struggle trying to figure out who he was and feeling trapped in the family life he was in. Petkoff shows this internal struggle as he carries the character from illegal relationships with teenage boys, to obsessing over historical restoration projects, and finally to when he feels like the world is slowly crushing him.
Alison tries to understand his struggle and wonders if her own coming out to him had anything to do with his possible suicide. This thought is established by our narrator Alison early on and is carried well throughout the story as we see Small Alison experiencing her father’s need for control and Medium Alison’s attempts to build a relationship with her father.
A Bird’s Eye View
Ultimately, despite going on this journey, Alison can still only speculate about whether or not her father committed suicide by jumping in front of a truck that night or if it was purely an accident. But she does come to a conclusion that she is ok with not knowing. She comes to a resolution by “Flying Away” and creating her book. By going through these memories and analyzing them she has pieced together her father and found some sort of understanding.
Fun Home – Emotional Powerhouse
Fun Home is an emotional powerhouse that is, like the graphic novel’s subtitle states, a tragicomedy.
The musical gives you uplifting moments and songs, like Medium Alison falling in love with her first college girlfriend and singing about “Changing My Major” to Joan, and Small Alison realizing her kinship with an “old school butch” delivery woman during “Ring of Keys.”
But at the same time, the musical makes you tear up at the lack of emotional and physical relationship Alison has with her father, like when we see Alison trying to have an open conversation with Bruce after she finds out he is also gay during “Telephone Wire.”
Ultimately, this 2015 Best Musical winner is a must see. It is one of the shorter musicals you might experience in your lifetime, running only one hour and forty minutes, but every moment is packed full of emotion. Fun Home draws you into Alison’s need to let go and delivers that cathartic emotional release at the end of the show leaving you satisfied.
Now through November 13th
Tuesdays - Fridays at 7:30pm
Saturdays at 2:00pm and 8:00pm
Sundays at 2:00pm and 7:30pm
24 W. Randolph St.
Chicago, IL 60603
*Parking available downtown
*Accessible via Metra and CTA
A select number of premium tickets are available for many performances. Group tickets for 10 or more are available by calling Broadway In Chicago Group Sales at (312) 977-1710. Tickets are available at all Broadway In Chicago Box Offices (24 W. Randolph St., 151 W. Randolph St., 18 W. Monroe St. and 175 E. Chestnut), the Broadway In Chicago Ticket Line at (800) 775-2000, all Ticketmaster retail locations and online at www.BroadwayInChicago.com.