Broadway’s ‘Fun Home’ arrives at Seattle’s 5th Avenue Theatre

A review of the high-impact, 2013 Tony Award-winning Broadway musical, which has arrived in a faithful tour at the 5th Avenue Theatre for its first Seattle run.

Do we ever truly know the parents who raised us? Or all the ways we are like them?

There are no neat answers in “Fun Home,” the high-impact, 2015 Tony Award-winning Broadway musical, which has arrived in a faithful tour at the 5th Avenue Theatre for its first Seattle run.

One can tag this extraordinary show, based on cartoonist Alison Bechdel’s probing graphic memoir of the same title, a seriocomic lesbian coming-out story. Or a study of the effects of homophobia in Middle America, circa the 1970s. Or a profile of a complex father-daughter bond, in all its enduring mystery.

THEATER REVIEW

‘Fun Home’

by Lisa Kron and Jeanine Tesori. Through July 30, 5th Avenue Theatre, 1308 Fifth Ave., Seattle; tickets from $36 (206-625-1900 or 5thavenue.org).

Adapted ingeniously and sensitively from Bechdel’s edgy and unsparing cartoon-book by playwright-lyricist Lisa Kron, gloriously scored by composer Jeanine Tesori and adroitly directed by Sam Gold, “Fun Home” is these things. And more. The multitextured strands of memory and ironic humor make it impossible to label it — as impossible as summing up one’s relationship with a difficult parent in a slogan.

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Kron’s version uses a common meta device uncommonly. There are three simultaneous versions of Bechdel onstage, as past and present entwine. The adult narrator Alison (played by Kate Shindle, a former Miss America no less, and an adept singer-actor) pulls no punches. She announces she’s gay, and her gay father (a teacher and part-time funeral director in small-town Pennsylvania) committed suicide in her teens.

The puzzle is why, what were the clues, how did she contribute or how could she have prevented it — guilty concerns of a bereaved…

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