Key Art for “Fun Home” at the Fulton Theatre. PHOTO COURTESY OF LANCASTERPA.COM

(ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON OCTOBER 21, 2021)

Charlotte Molotioris
Staff Writer

“Fun Home,” a 2015 Tony-award-winning musical, kicked off the Fulton Theatre’s new season after an 18-month closure due to the pandemic.

Based on the memoirs of real-life cartoonist Alison Bechdel, “Fun Home” tells the story of Alison’s dysfunctional family, which includes her mother, brothers, and closeted father. The musical traces her complicated relationship with her dad, who was an English teacher at the local high school and also ran the family funeral home (where the name “fun” home comes from). Unable to come to terms with his homosexuality, Alison’s father engages in a series of extramarital affairs before committing suicide. His death comes just a few months after Alison comes out to her family as a lesbian.

“Fun Home” traces Alison’s life in three major stages–childhood (where “small Alison” is played by Lily Philbrook), college (where “medium Alison” is portrayed by Abigail Isom), and adulthood (where “Alison” is played by Kate Fahrner). Through a series of musical numbers, “Fun Home” shines a light on how Alison was affected by living with a perfectionist father who couldn’t face his own truth. Highlights include “Welcome to Our House on Maple Avenue,” where we see the image the Bechdel family tries to project to the public, and “Changing My Major,” when Alison realizes she is gay. Although the storyline has depressing elements, the show is overall uplifting as Alison embraces her sexuality and identity while reconciling her unusual childhood and relationship with her father.

This season at the Fulton includes “ Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella,” “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,” “The Sound of Music,” “Smokey Joe’s Cafe,” “Man of La Mancha” and a final musical to be announced. Additionally, the Fulton will feature the Ellen Arnold Groff studio series, including “Jacob Marley’s Christmas Carol,” “Changing Channels,” “Sweat” and “Five Guys Named Mo.” The Eichmann Family Series, featuring shows for children, includes “Snow White,” “Sherlock Holmes,” “The Little Mermaid” and “Shrek.”

Not only did the Fulton Theatre return to live performances after taking a year and a half off, but the building reopened with a variety of new features. The Ed and Jeannie Arnold Center for the Performing Arts opened after a 10-year fundraising effort which began with a need to update the building’s HVAC system. Over the years, the project grew to include an expansion of the historic building, completed in two phases. In 2018, a new automation system was installed on stage, and construction continued through May 2021, with only a six-week shut down due to the pandemic. Renovations to the building occurred on the King Street and Grant Street sides and include a private entrance to the Chamber Theatre on King Street as well as an expanded lobby on the main floor, featuring new restrooms and elevators and a 1,000-guest capacity. Also added were 16 apartments for visiting artists and creatives, as well as expanded dressing rooms and administrative offices. The total project expanded the Fulton Theatre to a size of 131,455 square feet.

The Fulton Theatre offers student rush tickets with valid ID at the box office one hour before curtain time for the performance being purchased. The first Tuesday preview of each show features first-come, first-served pay-what-you-want tickets. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.thefulton.org.