Broadway’s wonderful Fun Home, which won the 2015 Tony Award for Best Musical, has announced that it will close on September 10. That’s sad news. But it needn’t obscure the larger good news, which is that Fun Home has lasted so long to begin with. It’s had an amazing run.
When it closes, Fun Home will have played more than 600 performances on Broadway, including 26 previews. Compared to some shows, that may not seem like much; The Phantom of the Opera, after all, has been haunting the Majestic since 1987. But Lisa Kron and Jeanine Tesori’s musical doesn’t fit the usual template for hits. Adapted from cartoonist Alison Bechdel’s graphic memoir, it is bittersweet, sensitive and searching—not qualities that necessarily attract large tourist audiences. It also features a lesbian central character, for arguably the first time in the history of Broadway musicals. (One could make a case for The Color Purple, but the original 2005 production was coyer about Miss Celie’s sexuality than the current incarnation.)
Fun Home moved to Circle in the Square, one of Broadway’s smallest venues, a year after its Off Broadway premiere at the Public Theater, and many theater folks wondered whether this small, dark show could find an audience amid the bright lights of the Great White Way. It seemed like the kind of show that would appeal to the audience for nonmusical plays on Broadway, which tend to run for three or four months. But thanks in part to its big Tony win—and an extraordinary performance on the Tony telecast by young Sydney Lucas—Fun Home proved the skeptics wrong. It has recouped its investment. It has launched a national tour that will begin in Ohio in October. And it has told its beautiful story to hundreds of thousands of spectators already. As I wrote in my five-star 2015 review, "Fun Home is not your ordinary Broadway musical, because it is extraordinary. It sings outside the box." The success of the show has gone a step farther: It has expanded the box itself.