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Theatre is back in Lancaster! | Center Stage

The Fulton Theatre opens with a harrowing true story of family, mental health and accepting your parents as they really are.

The Central Pennsylvania theatre scene has been quiet for over a year. Slowly, we've heard breaths of life over the past couple of months. 

The return of live theatre in Lancaster is not something that performers at the Fulton Theatre take lightly.

"To have live people in the theatre after so long without them, it is a gift on a daily basis," Jeff Coon, an administrator with the Fulton who also plays the role of the father, Bruce Bechdel, in the show said. "In some cases, it was the first time they've seen each other for 18 months. That group of people on opening night, it was such a thrill."

The Fulton Theatre is now back in full swing with a production originally set for the studio series of 2020, now on the main stage in 2021. This is also the first production featured after the completion of a nearly $30 million expansion of the Fulton in Downtown Lancaster.

"Fun Home" tells the story of real-life cartoonist Allison Bechdel. In the show, you're met with Allison at three different stages in her life, re-living her memories of her family, most notably, her father.

"This is a show that's challenging for some audiences," Coon said. "We get emails on a daily basis of people who are grateful that we have done this show on the main stage."

To be warned, themes in this show do include the discovery of one's sexuality, mental health and suicide. At its core, the musical details a dysfunctional family upbringing shaping who Allison ultimately becomes.

"The way that we view and make peace with who our parents are as adults, when we look at our parents as kids, teenagers and adults, we see them  through all of these different prisms, Coon said. "It allows us to see our parents as human beings and they're not perfect. We begin to see them more as human beings with faults and issues that we don't see as kids, because they're your superheroes."

Credit: Fulton Theatre
Jeff Coon (left), Kate Fahrner (center) and Alex Hayden Miller (right) of "Fun Home."

And of course, peace with the way life turned out.

"The way that Allison deals with her memory with him and ultimately come to peace with who she was and how that shaped who he is now as an adult is what I think is so moving about the piece," Coon said.

Even though it's the Fulton's first show back, this heavy material coupled with great music is a task designed to push the comfort zone of the audience. It's a quest they not only don't take lightly, but feel as a duty.

"Theatre isn't supposed to be something that you just enjoy. Theatre is meant to be something that drives you to the edge of your seat to be a part of," Coon said. "It's really important given to where we have been as a society over the past 18 months and where we continue to move that we encourage conversations about difficult things."

Masks are required to see the show. Performances run through October 7th. For more information, you can visit the Fulton Theatre's website.

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