Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: San Francisco/North Bay


Fun Home
National Tour
Review by Richard Connema | Season Schedule

Also see Richard's review of Native Son


Kate Shindle and Robert Petkoff
Photo by Joan Marcus
The Curran re-opens its doors after a two-year renovation to present the touring production of Tony Awards Best Musical Fun Home, with book and lyrics by Lisa Kron and music by Jeanine Tesori. The show is based on Alison Bechdel's autobiographical graphic novel about growing up with a closeted dad in the family's funeral home business (the "fun home"). It introduces us to Alison at three different ages as she discovers and untangles the secrets of her childhood. Fun Home is important at this time, when society's view of homosexuality is changing. It was on Broadway when the Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriage was constitutional.

Fun Home is set during the time period from the 1970s through the present and delves into a world where being true to yourself could mean the obliteration of everything and everyone you love. It's no secret that Alison's father commits suicide at the end of show; she tells the audience that her father was gay in the first scene. The 90-minute musical goes back and forth in time to reveal Alison's childhood and her first sexual encounter with a butch tomboy lesbian at Oberlin College in Ohio.

Reconceived for the tour by director Sam Gold and scenic designer David Zinn, this beautiful, expressively impactful musical has been taken from the Broadway in-the-round staging to a proscenium stage. The adult Alison is off on the left side of the stage now and Zinn divulges a genuine set of the wonderful Bechdel's museum-like home.

Jeannie Tesori's score is pitch perfect; I consider her to be one of the better current composers (Violet, Caroline, or Change). Robert Petkoff gives an outstanding performance as Bruce, the father, and he has solid vocal cords on his songs. Susan Moniz plays Alison's mother Helen. She gives a good performance and comes into her own with a moving rendition of "Days and Days."

Alessandra Baldacchino plays small Alison, Abby Corrigan plays medium Alison, and Kate Shindle plays the adult Alison; they all have excellent voices, though from my seat on the left side of the orchestra, close to a large speaker, I had problems hearing the lyrics of small and medium Alison. I had no problems with the rest of the cast voices.

Bottom Line: This is a groundbreaking, beautiful and unforgettable musical.

After two years of renovation, the Curran is beautiful, with a gold and turquoise interior and pop art graphics decorating the stairwell wall. The original Curran had such a small lobby that patrons were prevented from mingling. It now has a huge lobby where patrons can socialize, plus a bar. The bathrooms are expansive and chic. Producer Carole Shorenstein Hays can be proud of this accomplishment.

Fun Home plays through February 19th, 2017, at the Curran, 445 Geary Street, San Francisco. For tickets call 415-358-1220 or visit www.sfcurran.com. For more information on the tour, visit funhomebroadway.com. Coming up next at the Curran is Daniel Gurira's Eclipsedfrom March 7th through March 19th.


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