“Fun Home” Speaks About What Matters

Monday, December 5, 2016.

Actress Abby Corrigan hears a common reaction from audiences who see Broadway musical “Fun Home” — everyone finds a character they connect with.

This isn’t surprising, for a show focused on emotional family relationships.

“You really see things through every single character’s eyes. Every character has his and her own moment,” says Corrigan, who co-stars in the show’s national tour, coming to The Smith Center in early January. “Even if you can’t relate to the themes, there’s something you can find in the show that you will relate to.”

Based on the bestselling graphic memoir by Alison Bechdel, the five-time Tony winning show depicts Bechdel at three different ages as she explores the mysteries of her eccentric family in a small Pennsylvania town.

Corrigan, who plays Bechdel at 19 during a period of self-discovery, says many things set the show apart.

This includes the show’s fluid timeline, she says, which moves between different years of Bechdel’s life. On top of that, the show’s songs – which earned a Tony for Best Musical – are written in a conversational tone that helps make the story accessible.

“All of the characters are learning things. They don’t know what will happen at the end,” Corrigan says. “Everybody’s going through something new, which is what makes it so interesting. They want to know what will happen, and the audience wants to know, too.”

The show’s central theme of self-acceptance speaks to all audience members, she adds.

With “Fun Home” highlighting Bechdel’s personal growth from coming out, as well as her family’s various struggles, many people have approached the cast after performances with their own similar stories.

“So many people after they see the show want to talk about it,” Corrigan says. “Even people who maybe wouldn’t have wanted to talk about these kinds of things before.”

Corrigan has had no problem portraying Bechdel at an age of significant changes. At 18, the actress is going through a similar transition herself.

Corrigan actually earned her role in the national tour in the midst of auditioning for college theater programs, she says.

“I consider this part of Alison’s journey to be a lot like mine,” she says. “She’s going to college, and I consider the tour to be like my college. That makes it easier for me to portray it.”

She’s also found it helpful to watch the performances of Alessandra Baldacchino and Kate Shindle, who play the childhood and 43-year-old versions of Bechdel. Observing their performances of her character’s past and future have influenced Corrigan’s own portrayal, she says.

“As an actor you don’t usually get to see your (character) grown up or small. You have to do that work yourself,” she says. “But I have them right smack in front of me. It helps me prepare.”

The fact that the show depicts Bechdel’s real life makes the storyline more powerful, Corrigan adds.

“This show talks of so many things going on in America today and so many things that happen at home,” she says. “It reaches people in ways that a lot of shows can’t.”

Get tickets today:

“Fun Home” runs from January 3 - 8, 2017 at The Smith Center. For tickets or more information, visit www.thesmithcenter.com/event/fun-home/ or call the box office at 702-749-2000.

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