As part of our Broadway Buzz program, Buzz Extra writer Alicia Hansen will take you behind the scenes of each KeyBank Broadway Series show and interview a member of the show’s cast, crew or creative team.
Interview by Alicia Hansen
Kicking off the 2016-17 KeyBank Broadway Series is FUN HOME, which launched its national tour in CLE on October 2. Abby Corrigan, who plays Medium Alison, talked about what FUN HOME means to her.
After receiving raves reviews and winning five Tony Awards in 2015, Fun Home starts its national tour in Cleveland as the opening show in the 2016-17 Playhouse Square KeyBank Broadway Series. Based on Alison Bechdel’s best selling graphic memoir, the musical follows the story of its main character Alison at three different part of her life. In this interview, Abby Corrigan, who plays Middle Allison, shares how her performing career as a young adult prepared her for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Tell us about yourself.
Growing up, my parents always knew I was bound to be an actress even though they tried to guide me in other directions. I went to a performing arts high school in Charlotte, North Carolina where I double majored in art and musical theater at first, but eventually knew I wanted to focus on being an actor, a singer and a dancer. I ended up dropping the art major to focus on musical theater. Over the summers, I would go to California to train with my acting teacher and my singing teacher. I also have been able to train in New York City, studying with another vocal coach and taking some classes at Broadway Dance Center.
You won an award from the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center in North Carolina a few years ago. Through that and other opportunities, you have had the chance to travel to New York City. What did those experiences provide to you?
I have traveled to New York many, many times. I’ve learned that New York is such a special place because there’s nowhere else like it. Sure, there are different places where you can train. For example, I consider my favorite dance teacher to be in Charlotte and consider my acting teacher to be in California, but there’s an aspect of inspiration in New York — with all of those people that are doing that thing that you want to do – that’s the cool part in being able to travel and train there.
The national tour of Fun Home is opening here in Cleveland at Playhouse Square. Can you speak to the process of preparing a show for its opening on the road?
Fun Home is my college. I’m learning so much, but am really on my own for the first time. One lesson I learned quick is that you have to take care of yourself. You have to stay physically fit. You have to exercise. Sure, we all want to have a good time, but the most important part is taking care of your body because it is linked to your job.
We have a job to do. That includes making sure that you find nuances in the show every single time you do it. You can’t allow yourself to get tired of it. You have to find those little things in the show that you haven’t seen before.
Also, getting to know your fellow actors is vital. You can’t have a relationship on stage if you don’t have one off stage. In the show, Allison doesn’t know her mother, but I know the woman whom plays her mother very well. It’s so important in this process of working together.
You play Middle Allison, the second of three versions of the main character of the show. How do you work with the other “versions”/actresses playing Allison to find cohesiveness?
There are so many stages of life and so many changes that happen. But what’s great is that all four of us (since there are two young ladies playing Little Allison) all get along really well. The way that all of us see Allison is extremely similar. That allows it all to flow together. Also, we all look very similar, which helps. I try to emulate how the other Allisons walk so that I have a similar vibe as them. That said, I believe that we all stay ourselves as we develop our aspect of the character.
How does this production of Fun Home stand apart from others you’ve been a part of over the years?
Fun Home is probably the best thing that has ever happened to me. This show is so special to me and it is so special to everyone. It doesn’t matter who you are – you can find at least one thing that you relate to in the show.
Also, it is so refreshing to work with people that are passionate about what they do. They see you as an equal and they want to work with you. They want to know what’s going on with you – to make sure they have that connection with you and make sure that you’re all on the same page. We’re building the show together as a team and that’s the important part, and that’s why I think it’s special for me.
Fun Home runs October 2 – 22, 2016 in the Connor Palace at Playhouse Square. For more information, please visit the show’s page on the Playhouse Square website.
Alicia Hansen is the writer behind Poise in Parma, a healthy balance blog for Clevelanders. A graduate of Baldwin-Wallace College’s theatre program, Alicia is a local yoga teacher, event professional, marketer and proud Northeast Ohio arts supporter. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.