When Fun Home launched its national tour October 2, 2016, in Cleveland, Ohio, the Tony-winning creative team and new tour cast started from scratch. “The great thing about rehearsing for this tour: The staging is so drastically different in order to fill these big proscenium houses on the road that we had to start from zero,” says Kate Shindle, who plays Big Alison on the road. “We staged the show specifically for these size and shape spaces.”
As an actor, Shindle relished the leeway she was given to make Alison her own. “To me, my Alison is incredibly curious. The show is about trying to get the answer to what happened to my dad and sort of relentlessly trying to investigate her own past and put the pieces together in a really present and engaged way.”
Aside from her emotional creation of Alison, Shindle’s staging is also new. “It matters, I think, that I am so much physically bigger than [original star] Beth [Malone]. I’m 5‘11” and built like a swimmer, and Beth is tiny. You can slot someone of her size in scenes without pulling focus in a way that I’m not so sure I can be slotted. I have to be staged in a slightly different way. Where she would stand up in a scene if something happened, me sitting up straight has the same sort of net effect.”
Audiences around the country are truly witnessing something fresh and one-of-a-kind. “There have been so many amazing audience reactions that it’s been hard to get it down to one,” says Shindle. Even so, Shindle does conjure a story or two in the video above that may make you weep. Watch above to hear how audiences are receiving the award-winning musical and the powerful stories of Shindle’s reactions from fans across the United States.
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Listen to Kate Shindle’s powerhouse pipes below: