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Go Behind the Scenes of the Tony Award-Winning Musical "Fun Home" at The Armory

Catch a rare glimpse into the making of the set, props and costumes of the acclaimed musical "Fun Home" premiering in Portland in a new production by Portland Center Stage at The Armory.

Presented by Portland Center Stage September 8, 2017

Portland Center Stage at The Armory is the first regional theater company in the country to premiere Fun Home after its hit run on Broadway. Winner of the 2015 Tony Award for Best Musical and based on Alison Bechdel’s witty and wistful illustrated autobiography, Fun Home ushers us inside Alison’s head at three different ages. Looking back on her uniquely dysfunctional family, and remembering all the loving, silly, and even shameful moments, she learns to see her parents — and herself — for who they really are.

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(L to R) Theo Curl, Faith Sandberg, Allison Mickelson, Karsten George and Director Chris Coleman rehearse Fun Home. Photo by Kate Szrom.

Director Chris Coleman collaborated with Oregon Shakespeare Festival veteran William Bloodgood for the scenic design of Fun Home. The set is designed to resemble the look of Alison Bechdel’s graphic novel by utilizing several hanging panels — some featuring hand-drawn images and some with photographs. The story takes place in three different time periods, so the panels fly on and off stage to create the various locations in the story.

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To-scale set model of Fun Home by Scenic Designer William Bloodgood. Photo by Kate Szrom.

Due to the intimacy of the story, the physical set has been constructed as close to the audience as possible, and the seven-piece orchestra and conductor are stationed directly behind the set. Because the cast cannot see the conductor, there is a camera with a live feed of the conductor that plays on a television attached to the edge of the balcony that the actors can watch during their performance.

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The production team loading in the automated track system for Fun Home. Photo by Kate Szrom.

Seven pieces of the set are automated, meaning they are computer operated and move on and off stage. The production team used 400 feet of chain, which is just shy of the height of the Pyramid of Giza, to run the automation under the set floor. The flown scenery and equipment that allows the set pieces to be suspended in air weighs just over four tons — that’s the approximate weight of two African elephants.

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(L to R) Allison Mickelson and Aida Valentine rehearsing Fun Home with hand-made coffins in the background.  Photo by Kate Szrom.

Six local prop artisans built the many prop pieces required for the production from scratch, including three custom-fabricated upholstered coffins, two period appropriate cans of Pledge (which are built to spray Evian instead of furniture polish during the show), one hardwood drawing table and several other pieces.

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Six of the Fun Home costume renderings created by local designer Alison Heryer. Photo by Kate Szrom.

Costume Designer Alison Heryer was challenged with crafting designs to represent three time periods: late-seventies for Small Alison, mid-eighties for Medium Alison and a contemporary look for adult Alison. One of the many costume highlights in the production is The Partridge Family-inspired costumes for the song “Raincoat of Love.” 

When Fun Home played on Broadway, The Huffington Post called it a “grippingly heartwarming story mixed with some of the most smart and joyful musical numbers presently on Broadway. Seekers of provocative, invigorating and entertaining theatre will find it.” Don’t miss this brand new production of Fun Home custom-crafted by Portland artisans.

Ticket and Performance Information

When: September 16 – October 22, 2017

Showtimes: Tuesday through Sunday evenings at 7:30 p.m. (excluding Oct. 1, 15, 17 and 22), Saturday and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. (excluding Sep. 16, 17, 23 and Oct. 7), and Thursday matinees at noon (excluding Oct. 21). 

Where: On the U.S. Bank Main Stage at The Armory. 128 NW Eleventh Ave., Portland, Ore., 97209

More Info: www.pcs.org/funhome

To Purchase: Tickets start at $25 for all performances.

Online: www.pcs.org

By Phone: 503.445.3700, 12–6 p.m.

In Person: The Armory box office is at 128 NW Eleventh Avenue

12 p.m. to 8 p.m. on performance days

12 p.m. to 6 p.m. on non-performance days

Groups: Discounts available for groups of 10+ by calling 503.445.3794.