Although the production’s recent spate of tapering weekly grosses had suggested that a closing notice was imminent, the musical leaves Broadway as an unlikely success story. Based on a brainy, nonlinear graphic memoir by cartoonist Alison Bechdel, “Fun Home” intertwines protagonist Alison’s memories of her sexual awakening as a lesbian with her struggles to come to grips with her father’s suicide. It’s more serious-minded subject matter that most musical hits, and it’s the first Broadway musical with a lesbian lead.
However, “Fun Home” showed surprising resonance early in its lifespan, becoming a much-lauded, buzzmagnet hit at Off Broadway’s Public Theater prior to its transfer to Broadway. Playing one of Broadway’s smallest theater, the production carved out a niche attracting arthouse audiences, further spurred by the five Tony wins that included the first win in the category of original score for an all-female composer-lyricist team. The production recouped its $5.25 million capitalization in about eight months.
Produced on Broadway by Kristin Caskey, Mike Isaacson and Barbara Whitman, “Fun Home” will launch a national tour in Cleveland in October before hitting 40 markets in its first year.
The musical will ride out the summer on Broadway in the hopes of catching some of the Street’s seasonal tourist business, shuttering at Circle in the Square Sept. 10.