While I wouldn’t exactly say it’s a “fun” show, “Fun Home” is certainly a powerful and moving one.
“Fun Home,” based on the graphic novel memoir by Alison Bechdel, was turned into a musical by Lisa Kron (book and lyrics) and Jeanine Tesori (music). It opened on Broadway in 2015 and went on to win five Tony Awards, including Best Musical.
Kate Shindle stars as Alison, a cartoonist looking back on her life with particular emphasis on her relationship with her father Bruce (Robert Petkoff). Shindle serves as narrator as the story moves back and forth in time, from her days as a child (Alessandra Baldacchino) and as a college student (Abby Corrigan).
Young Alison lives with her siblings (Pierson Salvador and Lennon Nate Hammond) and mother Helen (Susan Moniz) in a house meticulously overseen by her father. Bruce is a handyman, a school teacher, and he runs the family business — a funeral home which the kids refer to as the “fun home.” The show’s most lighthearted moment comes when the children sing a song they’d written to promote the business in a home-made commercial.
It appears like a typical family in maybe an atypical home, but Bruce is hiding something — an interest in other men (all played by Robert Hager).
When Alison goes off to college she finds her own sexuality awakened thanks to an encounter with classmate Joan (Karen Eilbacher). Alison comes out to her parents in a letter but they are slow to respond. Eventually she and Joan go home to visit. Some things come out in the open while others are sadly left unsaid.
“Fun Home” is an intimate, touching musical that moves at a brisk pace and without an intermission (Thank you, Jesus). The set design is sparse for the most part with a small orchestra in a corner of the stage.
The music is fine but the songs aren’t that memorable. Highlights include the kids’ “Come to the Fun Home,” college Alison’s “Changing My Major” and the moving “Telephone Wire.”
The small cast delivers exceptional work in an emotionally draining show. “Fun Home” is a coming-of-age story, a coming-out story, and a coming-to-grips-with-the-past story. It’s a compelling show with engaging characters.
“Fun Home” runs through November 27. http://www.fabulousfox.com/