July 12, 2015


Circle in the Square Theatre
May 23, 2015

Fun Home the musical is based on the 2006 award-winning graphic memoir by Alison Bechdel, who recalls the unique challenges faced by her family during her childhood and youth. Titled “Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic”, the memoir is centered on Bechdel’s experiences with coming out as a lesbian while her father remained a closeted homosexual in a heterosexual marriage. Both the musical and graphic memoir focus predominantly on the relationship between Alison and her father, but also acknowledge the larger dysfunction within the family as a whole. There is no particular arc or climax to the storyline; rather the musical is a sequence of memories and snapshots of Alison’s life which are portrayed on stage. Fun Home was nominated for twelve Tony Awards, and (in case you live under a rock!) it won the Tony Award for Best Musical! 

I was extremely impressed with the cast because it is obvious that they really believe in this story and its message, and they are working hard to portray these characters genuinely and respectfully. Michael Cerveris, who is one of my favorite actors, won the Tony Award for Best Leading Actor in a Musical for his performance as Bruce Bechdel, Alison’s closeted father. He embodies the persona of a loving father who periodically morphs into that of a distant and tormented man. Cerveris portrays the complexities and layers of this unique character impeccably. In many ways, Fun Home is Bruce’s story more than it is Alison’s story. 

Judy Kuhn (Helen Bechdel), Beth Malone (Big Alison), Emily Skeggs (Medium Alison), and Sydney Lucas (Small Alison) all received Tony Award nominations for their respective roles in Fun Home. The story is narrated by Big Alison, who is now in her 40’s, as she reflects on her childhood and youth and her relationship with her late father.  I liked Beth Malone as Big Alison, and appreciated her matter-of-fact sense of humor in her line delivery (“my father killed himself and I became a lesbian cartoonist”). She was a quiet, but palpable presence on stage. Emily Skeggs’ naiveté as Medium Alison was charming and her performance of “Changing My Major” was one of the more comedic moments of Fun Home. I was devastated when Sydney Lucas did not receive the Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical for Small Alison. I can’t even put her performance into words. It was… impressive for an 11-year old… astounding… profound… heart-wrenching. I also liked Judy Kuhn’s conception of Helen Bechdel, as a woman concealing her anguish with a composed exterior. Every performer was excellent. 

Fun Home portrays many universal themes and emotions which are relatable for any human being and you don’t have to be gay to appreciate the message and value of the story. At first, I felt that I would have connected to the story on a greater level if I was gay; however, it has been over a month since I saw Fun Home, and after reflecting on the story, I find myself connecting strongly to some of the more general family and relationship-related themes. So, in other words, you don’t have to be gay or have a gay parent to connect to the story and characters. I firmly believe that this musical has the potential to be life-changing for many people. Nothing like Fun Home has ever been conceived before on stage and it will undoubtedly have a monumental effect on people who really connect to the story and to the struggles of the characters. 

For me, the show was extremely thought-provoking, the performances were absolutely heart-wrenching, and the score was outstanding. Further, this musical has deservingly made history, as Jeanine Tesori and Lisa Kron are the first female writing team to win the Tony Award for Best Original Score (and Kron also won Best Book of a Musical). In conclusion, this musical is a must-see for all true Broadway fans because it is a trailblazer in the world of musical theatre. Moving forward, I don’t think musical theatre will ever be the same… 

1 comment:

  1. Great blog! I can't wait to see this! Sydney's performance at the Tonys was haunting, and i feel she should have won, too!