Since the mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Florida earlier this summer, the Broadway community has worked to raise money through a star-studded rendition of “What The World Needs Now Is Love” and the Lin-Manuel Miranda-Jennifer Lopez team up “Love Make The World Go Round.” Fun Home actor Michael Cerveris, however, had the idea to bring his show directly to the people most directly affected by the tragedy, and in July the cast performed it in its entirety for an audience at Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts in Orlando.
Now, in an essay for The New York Times, Cerveris wrote about the impact of bringing this musical, about identity and sorrow, to a place still reeling from tragedy.
Comic moments played more joyfully than ever. Scenes in a funeral home — a place too many in this community had recently, prematurely visited — became a chance to find a moment’s shared relief in gentle laughter with neighbors at the painful absurdities of life.
But it was the latter scenes of a father and daughter’s last car ride together, a wife’s lament and a man’s anguished, sudden end that I will never forget. They were met by a deafening silence from an audience holding its breath. And then Beth Malone as Alison delivered the line “Bracing yourself against the pulse of the trucks rushing past.” I had forgotten that line was coming. Innocuous, a simple descriptive word, but in this night’s context, it rang out like a shot.
The Tony-winning production undoubtedly has a painful resonance in the wake of the horrific act, which targeted gay lives: Adapted from Alison Bechdel’s graphic memoir, it follows the cartoonist as she excavates her past, reckoning with her coming out and the suicide of her closeted father, played by Cerveris.
The proceeds from the event went to Equality Florida Action. Read Cerveris’ full essay here.