Review On Fun Home

Eric A Gordon

Registered Critic

I’ll make another couple of points about smaller theatre productions: If the acoustics are well managed, and they are here, with every performer adroitly miked, words come through in a way that they often do not in larger houses with more reverberation and a boxier sound. I recall, for example, the trio of treble-voiced children—Small Alison and her brothers Christian (Reese Hewitt) and John (Christopher Patow)—singing their number “Come to the Fun Home” about coping with their squeamishness living in a mortuary. At the Ahmanson two years ago I could barely understand a word of it, but here, almost all of it came through loud and clear.

In an expansive house, especially in a big Broadway show on tour, casting tends to favor well-tempered, trained voices with broad commercial appeal. At Chance, the mature, middle-aged parents, the controlling Bruce and the long-suffering Helen Bechdel (Jennifer Richardson), are what I would call singing actors more than acting singers. Their showstopper numbers—“Days and Days” for Helen and “Edges of the World” for Bruce—are intense inner reflections on life failures that it turns out do not require the polished, soaring vocalism that Broadway demands. They can be equally effective on the small stage just a few feet away from you, with the audible scratch in the throat, the lyrics poignantly hovering between speech and song. Neither interpretation, big or small, is better or worse; they’re just different for distinct production styles.

Eric A. Gordon, writes for People's World ( He has written for dozens of local, national, and international publications, mostly about art, music, culture, religion and politics. His undergraduate degree is from Yale and his doctorate in history is from Tulane. He was director of the Workmen's Circle/Arbeter Ring in Southern California from 1995 to 2010. Eric is the author of "Mark the Music: The Life and Work of Marc Blitzstein," and co-author of "Ballad of an American: The Autobiography of Earl Robinson." A book he translated from Portuguese ("Waving to the Train and Other Stories," by Hadasa Cytrynowicz) appeared in 2013. In 2015 he executive produced "City of the Future," a CD of Soviet Yiddish music from the 1930s. He is the former Southern California Chapter Chair of the National Writers Union (Local 1981 UAW/AFL-CIO).