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Lyric Theatre returns to the Krannert Center stage with ‘Fun Home’

Lyric Theatre @ Illinois' production of "Fun Home" opens Thursday night at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts in Urbana. It's the department's first indoor show for a live audience since the beginning of the pandemic.

URBANA — Lyric Theatre @ Illinois returns to the Krannert Center stage Thursday evening with a production of the Tony Award-winning musical, “Fun Home.”

The show is an adaptation of the graphic novel of the same name, written by Alison Bechdel, which looks at the relationship between Alison and her father, who are both gay, and examines some of the secrets surrounding his life.

Illinois Newsroom’s Brian Moline spoke with Stage Director Sarah Wigley, Music Director Julie Gunn, Danny Yeorgis who plays Alison’s father, Bruce, and Sarah Durbin, who portrays Alison’s mother, Helen.

Listen to this story here.

Sarah Wigley says that Lyric Theatre is excited to get back on stage in front of an audience, although this is a smaller production than normal.

“We had to pick this title when we were at the height of COVID, and none of us knew where we were going to be in a year with COVID,” Wigley said. “To choose a musical where the storyline does not revolve around a romantic relationship seemed really important to me, knowing I would direct whatever show this would be.

“Knowing we have to have a smaller cast, we can’t have 40 people on stage right now, we thought, well, this is the time if we’re ever going to have to a show with, like, six adults and three children, nine total, we don’t want to typically do shows like that because we want to afford more opportunities, but because we’re still in a pandemic, it seemed like the right time to do a show with a much smaller cast,” she said.

Yeorgis says the relationship between parent and child drew him to the role of Bruce, and he thinks audiences will be able to relate.

“I have often asked myself, ‘am I exactly like my dad?’ It’s sort of my greatest fear, and also one of my hopes that I am,” Yeorgis said, “and I think that’s probably true for a lot of people.”

Sarah Durbin says it was important for her to remember that Helen Bechdel is a real person, and she tried to bring that with her on stage.

“Getting to know Helen as she was, reading her obituary, reading the book that Alison Bechdel wrote about her life, the graphic novel,” Durbin said, “it felt like I had a real responsibility to Helen Bechdel to tell her story as well.”

Gunn says although she thinks Lyric Theatre did a good job of allowing students to perform in different ways during the pandemic, she says it will be great to be back in front of a Krannert Center audience.

“We have not been able to have our audiences that we love very much,” Gunn said. “That’s what’s so exciting about this in the sense of a return.”

Follow Brian on Twitter @BrianMolineWILL.

Picture of Brian Moline

Brian Moline

Brian Moline is the Managing Editor of Illinois Newsroom and host of Morning Edition for Illinois Public Media/WILL. He's been with WILL since 2015, after a long stint at WDWS-AM in Champaign where he covered both news and sports for more than a decade. If you have story or interview ideas, you can reach Brian at bmoline@illinois.edu.

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