Welcome to the Fun Home: You Will Cry or You’re Heartless

I usually forget that I have a father. Of course I have a father; I do not hail from an immaculate conception. It’s just that my father has been out of my life for so long that I often forget his existence. It’s not until something like Fun Home comes along that emotionally devastates me that the full magnitude of growing up without a father hits me.

Fun Home is, of course, brilliant. I have nothing to say that hasn’t been said already and is so deserving of all its award success. It’s unlike any other show I’ve seen before, mostly because it doesn’t seem like a show. To begin with, it’s definitely not your jazz hand razzle-dazzle musical, but a beautiful show that’s full of heart. Kudos to director, Sam Gold, for staging Fun Home in the round because the production never feels like a production. It felt like an honest, beautiful, heartbreaking story that happened to be a musical produced on a Broadway stage.

I have never cried so much in a theater before. And I never have been more aware of all the sniffles around me. I wonder if Beth Malone and Michael Cerveris take stock of everyone’s emotional devastation as they spin around during “Telephone Wire.” “Just one tissue out, oh, there’s another one. That woman now has a steady stream of tears instead of the single glistening tear at the start of the song.” This was the second show I saw this year where after the lights came up, my mom and I stayed in our seats to dry our tears and to get a handle on our emotions before making our way out of the theater (the first was Hamilton at the Public). By the time we felt emotionally secure to walk out and stand in the long line at the merchandise booth, most of the cast was out and chatting with each other. You always hear that Broadway shows are like a family, and you truly saw it with this cast. It made me insanely happy to see these people laughing and smiling together, looking ready to hang out and live their normal lives, completely unaware of how emotionally devastated they all left me.

Fun Home is definitely a winner. It’s an amazing thing that Broadway can have such diversity and have this tiny gem of a show become not just the critical darling of the season, but a real bona fide hit at the box office. And lastly, thank you to Alison Bechdel for sharing her family’s story.

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