Fun Home Touring Company

Started by mrssondheim, Jun 24, 2017, 12:05 pm

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mrssondheim

I recently read an article about the "debutching of Alison" for the touring company of Fun Home.  I was wondering the reason for the change of costume for  Big Alison only.  Everything else is exactly like the Broadway production.

I did not find the character "debutched" but boring as hell.  Does anyone know the reason behind the costume change???  I can't find any articles other than the one that I just mentioned.  I am obsessed with the show, so I am very curious.
A blank page or canvas. My favorite.

DiveMilw

Fun Home went on tour and I helped!
The show was in Hartford last week and yesterday I helped quite a few of the cast and crew fly out to their next stop, Charlotte, NC.  They open tonight.


Re: Big Alison's costume.  I didn't realize it changed.  Now you're going to make me go look at photos and compare.  :)
I no longer long for the old view!

AmyG

I read that article and I have to agree. Her butchness is intrinsic to the story. It's what "Ring of Keys" is all about. Big Alison needs be the person little Alison admires in that song; a woman comfortable with her style and choices.

I wonder if, as the article suggests, Kate Shindle was just too vain to fully commit to the character and insisted on a more feminine look.

And I agree, it was  my least favorite aspect of the tour. "Telephone Wire" always makes me cry. When I saw it on Broadway and when I listen to either OCR. But her rendition left me cold.

Middle Alison was great though. Adorable and funny. I'm glad I saw it even with the flaws.

Diane

Lisa Kron, writer of Fun Home, denies that Kate Shindle was made less butch in the tour:
http://funhomebroadway.com/blog.php

Bobster

Quote from: Diane on Jun 30, 2017, 06:24 pmLisa Kron, writer of Fun Home, denies that Kate Shindle was made less butch in the tour:
http://funhomebroadway.com/blog.php


I was surprised when I first saw the pictures of Kate Shindle, I admit--but it then made sense.  Kate is a bosomy woman, not reedy as Beth Malone is.  So it made sense to me immediately that her outfit would be different.

I am saddened that people aren't liking her as much as I did, maybe I have too much "history" with the piece but I found Kate to be fully committed and dedicated with no compromises.  And I very much was moved by "Telephone Wire".  I found her Alison still looking and yearning for answers.  I'm sorry you all didn't think so.  That's theatre...

I'd love to read the original article about this.

AmyG

What a thoughtful response. Thanks for posting that, @Diane. I like Lisa Kron and am willing to take her at her word.

@Bobster, here's the original article:
https://sinisterwoman.wordpress.com/2017/06/22/the-de-butching-of-alison-bechdel/

I don't usually say anything negative about theatre online because, who knows why a performance affects us a certain way. Could be anything. Could be my mood. Could be the overall mood of the audience. Could be an off night for the actor. And while they are professionals and mostly deliver the same performance every night, Some slight difference could do a lot to change whether you are emotional pulled in or not. Overall, I love this show and the production. I would see it anytime in any form. It's coming back in August to Costa Mesa so I may go again.

valmont

I adore this show as I've said repeatedly.  I have great admiration for Lisa Kron and what she achieved with the adaptation of a sprawling, highly visual work.  I am glad she clarified that the costume change was her decision and not made at Kate Shindle's request.  But I don't see how anybody could look at Shindle next to Beth Malone and not see that the character's look has been softened.

The video I've seen of Kate Shindle is fantastic.  I think she's good in the role and I sorta wish I'd seen her.  Aileen, I think maybe it's just the direction and the way the role is VERY underwritten.  Alison mostly stands and observes, and even for her two big songs she has to remain stationary.  Beth Malone was also boring.
I was born to ask "why was I born?"

scenicdesign71

Jul 04, 2017, 09:40 am #7 Last Edit: Dec 07, 2017, 10:04 pm by scenicdesign71
Not at Circle in the Square, she wasn't -- partly because the space required her to be more active, in the most literal physical sense; indeed, that was one of the B'way transfer's most striking improvements over the Public production.  Downtown, Malone (through no fault of her own -- nor of Kron's, as it turns out) came off as little more than a wry, almost disinterested narrator for much of the show.  Uptown -- without disrupting Fun Home's balance as an ensemble piece, or even expanding her role per se -- the story manifestly "belonged to" (adult) Alison: a narrative she spent the entire evening actively grappling with, rather than just dryly imparting to us.

I don't mean to be unduly hard on the original, Off-B'way production (which, in any case, boasted the same creative team and almost entirely the same cast; so if I'm criticizing their "first pass" at Fun Home, it's only by way of praising their subsequent, glorious improvement).  And I certainly don't discount the possibility that that intervening year of being able to listen to the OOBCR -- with one viewing (albeit a mildly disappointing one) at the Pubic already under my belt -- may have given me ample time to "convince myself," in advance, to love the uptown transfer as much as I'd hoped to love the downtown original.  But I do recall being truly startled by what a different, and more satisfying, experience I had upon seeing the B'way version for the first time during previews -- all the more so once I realized how little the book and score had actually changed.  However much I may have been hoping/rooting for such improvement, I wouldn't have guessed it could be accomplished almost entirely by restaging, no matter how radical (due to the change from proscenium to arena configuration) or how adroit.  That was entirely unexpected, and thrilling.

So I was equal parts curious and nervous about seeing the tour in Hartford, once again trapped behind a proscenium.  Lo and behold, another pleasant surprise: I ended up crying just as much there as I had during any of my eventual 9 or 10 viewings at Circle in the Square.  Nothing can dim my memories of the original cast; but Shindle and company were marvelous, and I even came around to non-grudging acceptance of the logistically necessary return to a proscenium format -- not a simple reversion to the Public design and staging, but tighter, leaner, and more carefully focused, which certainly helped.  Performances, design and staging alike struck me as all the more impressive given the rather inhospitable setting: Mortensen Hall, at Hartford's Bushnell Center, seems to have been designed with the singleminded goal of forbidding any sense of intimacy between performer and audience.

mrssondheim

Quote from: valmont on Jul 04, 2017, 06:24 amI adore this show as I've said repeatedly.  I have great admiration for Lisa Kron and what she achieved with the adaptation of a sprawling, highly visual work.  I am glad she clarified that the costume change was her decision and not made at Kate Shindle's request.  But I don't see how anybody could look at Shindle next to Beth Malone and not see that the character's look has been softened.

The video I've seen of Kate Shindle is fantastic.  I think she's good in the role and I sorta wish I'd seen her.  Aileen, I think maybe it's just the direction and the way the role is VERY underwritten.  Alison mostly stands and observes, and even for her two big songs she has to remain stationary.  Beth Malone was also boring.

I saw Beth as well and she left me in a puddle of tears. That's why I was disappointed. Perhaps it was how far she was in the tour. A lot of LA peeps felt the same as I.
LA gets a lot of tired companies unfortunately.
A blank page or canvas. My favorite.

AmyG

Quote from: mamarose on Jul 04, 2017, 09:50 amI saw Beth as well and she left me in a puddle of tears. That's why I was disappointed. Perhaps it was how far she was in the tour. A lot of LA peeps felt the same as I.
LA gets a lot of tired companies unfortunately.

I agree. Beth's performance hit me more emotionally then Kate Shindle's. But I think we got the tour relatively early. The tour started in October 2016 and it was at the Ahmanson in February. I think @Bobster saw it in Philadelphia just a few weeks ago and @scenicdesign71 saw it in Hartford, probably a week or so later. I'm thinking rather than growing tired, she really got a better understanding of the character and how to play it as time went on. It seems to me, that's how it should be, not the other way around.

Re tired companies, I disagree with this. Maybe it was that way at one time, but not anymore. We are getting Hamilton second after San Francisco. I think we get productions early just as often as we get them later. And sometimes we get our own limited engagements runs like the Kennedy Center Follies that transferred to Broadway and the Grey Gardens that was done in the Hamptons. These were not tours.

mrssondheim

Quote from: AmyG on Jul 04, 2017, 11:59 am
Quote from: mamarose on Jul 04, 2017, 09:50 amI saw Beth as well and she left me in a puddle of tears. That's why I was disappointed. Perhaps it was how far she was in the tour. A lot of LA peeps felt the same as I.
LA gets a lot of tired companies unfortunately.

I agree. Beth's performance hit me more emotionally then Kate Shindle's. But I think we got the tour relatively early. The tour started in October 2016 and it was at the Ahmanson in February. I think @Bobster saw it in Philadelphia just a few weeks ago and @scenicdesign71 saw it in Hartford, probably a week or so later. I'm thinking rather than growing tired, she really got a better understanding of the character and how to play it as time went on. It seems to me, that's how it should be, not the other way around.

Re tired companies, I disagree with this. Maybe it was that way at one time, but not anymore. We are getting Hamilton second after San Francisco. I think we get productions early just as often as we get them later. And sometimes we get our own limited engagements runs like the Kennedy Center Follies that transferred to Broadway and the Grey Gardens that was done in the Hamptons. These were not tours.

You may be right on all accounts. I stopped going to here after seeing too many casts just walking through a show.
You way be correct that she grew into the role, I just wish she had done it sooner. Lol.
A blank page or canvas. My favorite.

scenicdesign71

I can't remember -- did you guys see Beth at the Public or at Circle in the Square, or both?  (I know @Bobster saw both; I think @DiveMilw and @mamarose did too, but I wouldn't swear to it; I believe @valmont  saw only the Public production; and I'm guessing @AmyG saw only the B'way production.  Am I getting any of this right?)

As far as the costume issue goes, I'm conflicted; it didn't ruin the touring production for me by any means, but I can understand people's disappointment and suspicion.  Like Amy, I wouldn't have said Shindle's performance compromised Alison's butchness in the slightest, but the controversy makes me wish I could see her perform the role again, wearing the original costume, for the sake of comparison.

Diane

Jul 05, 2017, 04:50 am #12 Last Edit: Jul 05, 2017, 04:58 am by Diane
I haven't chimed in on this topic in a while.

I saw Fun Home at the Public, at Circle in the Square (but only once!) and early in the tour (in Chicago).  Obviously I liked it, or I wouldn't have kept going back.

I went to the Public version with few expectations.  It was early days and few had heard "Ring of Keys" or "I'm Changing My Major."  I was blown away by those songs and their performances by Sydney Lucas (still little) and Emily Skeggs. Emily was so gawky and endearing.  Sydney so poised and heartfelt.   To be honest, I barely registered Beth Malone at that time.  She was the narrator to me.  I wasn't looking to her for emotional reaction, but yes, it was moving when she finally stepped into her own life in "Telephone Wire."  I remember being surprised when she was nominated for a Tony for best leading actress.  She didn't feel like the lead to me.  If I had to comment on her costume at the time, I would have said it was childlike--a stripey top and jeans, similar to what small Alison wears. Her haircut read as butch to me, relatively speaking, but her clothes didn't correspond to the image of a butch lady conjured up in "Ring of Keys."

By "Circle in the Square"  I was better prepared to focus on Beth Malone and also on Judy Kuhn, who had similarly not registered on me with the force that others reported feeling.  (I should add that in addition to the younger Alisons, I was also very drawn in by Michael Cerveris as the (to me) appalling Bruce.  Seeing it for the second time, I felt sick from almost the beginning as he sings to himself in the mirror "Not so bad, if I say so myself/I could still break a heart or two.")  But my efforts to focus on Beth were somewhat thwarted by the staging.  I know other people loved seeing it in the round, but I found it hard to know where Beth was when the focus was on other characters (i.e. most of the time).

Ok, on to the tour.  Back in a proscenium staging, which as I've indicated, allowed me better to sort out the show visually. Kate Shindle, tall and full bodied, became of necessity a new Alison, no longer a close rendition of the author. Perhaps to some people she shouldn't have been cast because of her body type. But interestingly, in this production Shindle's appearance made her a very good match for Robert Petkoff, who is taller and a fuller body type than Michael Cerveris. I know it's superficial, but this resemblance, enhanced by their similar glasses, allowed me to "see" Big Alison during parts of the show where she had faded into the background for me before. So I noticed the character's emotional responses as I hadn't before, particularly at the moment of Bruce's death.  Honestly, I didn't think about her clothes.  Shindle embodied the role in a different way (including clothing) and obviously I was ok with that.

As others have noted, Abby Corrigan as Middle Alison brought a fresh take to her role.  She was hard to resist (funny and pretty and with a great voice) although I still have a fondness for the hapless, gawky character created by Emily Skeggs). 

AmyG

Jul 05, 2017, 05:50 am #13 Last Edit: Jul 05, 2017, 07:14 am by AmyG
Quote from: scenicdesign71 on Jul 05, 2017, 02:22 amIand I'm guessing @AmyG saw only the B'way production.  Am I getting any of this right?)

That's correct @scenicdesign71. We saw it on Broadway in November 2015 and then on tour in February of this year. I may see it a third time in Costa Mesa. The audience is likely to be conservative Orange County subscribers for the most part. It should be interesting.

Thanks for your thoughts, @Diane. I agree that the proscenium staging made it easier for me to focus. And the more representative sets helped me know where they were at the beginning of the scene so my mind wasn't spending time trying to sort that out. But with the help of a very thought out and lengthy analysis of the seating at Circle in the Square by @scenicdesign71 on the old FTC, I was able to pick the optimum seats for @Chris L and me, right across from @George and Greg, incidentally.

valmont

Did anyone happen to see Alexandra Socha as Medium Alison?  I adore her performance on the OCR.
I was born to ask "why was I born?"