Local Arts

What do you learn touring in a Broadway smash? ‘Budding star’ Charlottean answers

Abby Corrigan (fourth from left) is “Medium Alison” in “Fun Home.”
Abby Corrigan (fourth from left) is “Medium Alison” in “Fun Home.” Joan Marcus

Charlotte’s Abby Corrigan hits her hometown stage June 27, as the national touring company of Broadway success “Fun Home” begins an eight-show run at the Knight Theatre.

Corrigan has by now performed the show 260 times, in cities from Cleveland to Washington – where the Post theater critic wrote in April that Corrigan, 19, “is – mark my words – a budding star.” She says: “I’m definitely not afraid to walk out on stage anymore.”

She is “Medium Alison” in “Fun Home,” cartoonist Alison Bechdel’s story of self-discovery and her relationship with her father and family. Winner of the 2015 Tony for Best Musical, it’s the first Broadway musical with a lesbian protagonist – played in three parts: the adult Alison, plus Small and Medium versions. Corrigan’s star song is “Changing My Major,” in which the college-age Alison ponders her love for an older female student.

Performing back at home will definitely be surreal to her, she says, recalling how she used to look up what Broadway shows would be coming to Charlotte, and which actors would be in them. Seeing her own name near the top of the cast list? That’s “going to feel odd – but I’ll be happy to see my family and my dog.”

The best part about being on tour has been what she’s learned and the people she’s met, Corrigan says. One big lesson and a piece of advice: “As an actor you’re never going to be perfect, but the struggle to get there is what would make you a good actor. And you have to be doing it for yourself. You can’t be doing it for anybody else.”

She won Charlotte’s Blumey Award for best actress in 2014; those awards recognize high-school musical talent in the Charlotte area and send two winners each year to the national competition called the Jimmys. (This year’s Jimmys show happens Monday night; Anna Hertel and Justin Rivers are Charlotte’s emissaries and the show will be hosted by 2017 Tony winner Ben Platt.) Corrigan attended Charlotte’s Northwest School of the Arts and is one of two students of whom NWSA teacher Bonnie Fraker has said “your eyes went to them right away.”

(The other? 2013 Blumeys best-actress winner, Eva Noblezada, who was up for a leading actress Tony this year.)

The main character in “Fun Home” appears in three versions: Abby Corrigan is “Medium Alison,” between older and younger counterparts. Joan Marcus Joan Marcus

Corrigan says in order to make a show worthwhile, she must always be working. But that’s how she wants it.

“It’s probably the best thing that’s ever happened to me.”