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"Fun Home" brings provocative, topical story to Fisher Theatre

Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

Posted: Monday, November 28, 2016

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"Fun Home" was a fine fit for Broadway -- where it won five Tony Awards -- and Off Broadway.

Taking it to the provinces, however, was another matter.

The musical, written by Michigander Lisa Kron from Alison Bechdel's 2006 graphic novel, features a lesbian protaganist as well as her gay father. It's provocative and topical, especially during the past couple of years, but taken on the road it doesn't have quite the same, safe mainstream appeal as, say, "Cats" for "Phantom of the Opera."

But assistant director Portia Krieger, who spent her pre-college school years in Ann Arbor, is happy to report that so far audiences are having, well, fun -- and more -- with "Fun Home."

"As a person who makes theater, you are always apprehensive about putting anything in front of an audience, and I don't think we felt differently about this show than any other pieces of work," Krieger says by phone from Brooklyn, where she reisdes. "This show is obviously about something highly specific, but everyone has a family and everyone, I think, has arrived at a moment as adults where they realize their parents are not monoliths, that their parents are normal, human, flawed people. I think that's something a lot of peoel really see in the show and relate to.

"So, honestly, it's been a huge pleasure to have the show move around the country like this and just see the warmth and appreciation with wich it's been received everywhere."

In the "Fun Home" graphic novel, Blechdel writes about her realization that she was lesbian and her coming out, concurrent with learning her father Bruce had many homosexual relationshps during his life and the family dynamics, sometimes tragic, that followed. Kron, writing the book and lyrics, and composer Jeanine Tesori adapted it into what Slate magazine dubbed "the first mainstream musical about a young lesbian;" "Fun Home" began workshops during the summer of 2009 and debuted on stage in the New York Public Theater's Public Lab series. It debuted Off-Broadway during the fall of 2013 and in moved to Broadway, at the Circle in the Square Theatre, during March of 2015.

It proved to be an auspicious time. The U.S. Supreme Court verdict upholding marriage equality just three months into the run "was a very exciting night," according to Krieger, a Huron High School graduate who studied theater at Smith College and worked with director Sam Gold on other projects before "Fun Home." Krieger also remembers U.S. United Nations Ambassador Samantha Power bringing a delgation of representatives "from countries where gay righs are threatened every day, in a profound way" to one of the shows.

"Fun Home's" Tonys included Best Musical for 2015, while it also won a Grammy Awards for Best Musical Theater Album, eight Drama Desk Awards and other citations. The Broadway production closed in September, but "Fun Home" has a long run slated for the road, and Krieger feels that a fear that civil rights could be in danger again under the Trump administration makes "Fun Home's" message even more crucial.

"When we make theater we want to make things at are beautiful," Krieger explains. "It did feel really good to bring a show that has a message about tolerances. And I feel so proud and it is a balm to my soul that in this mment where it feels like a lot of people's hate is leaking out, that our show is on the road all across America. That feels really good to me."

"Fun Home"

Nov. 29-Dec. 11.

The Fisher Theatre, 3011 W. Grand Blvd., Detroit.

Tickets are $39-$130.

Call 313-872-1000 or visit broadwayindetroit.com.

Web Site: www.broadwayindetroit.com

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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