Fun Home: A coming-of-age musical. As someone who has read the graphic memoir it is based on, this intrigues me. Why coming-of-age instead of “A family tragicomedy” subtitle from the original memoir?
The Arts Club presents Fun Home, music by Jeanine Tesori, book and lyrics by Lisa Kron, based on the graphic novel by Alison Bechdel, directed by Lois Anderson. The musical numbers are charming, especially Come to the Fun Home, not only is it hilarious, but it also shows about how little about death or the funeral industry the children really know. In the following scene Alison sees her first dead body, enforcing the idea of the loss of innocence. Numbers such as Changing my Major and Ring of Keys show her discovery and realization of her sexuality. As she discovers her father’s sexuality as well, she tries to make sense the mysterious man, though he is still mysterious as ever. Making the comic is her way of grieving for him. The musical and the adult Alison’s comments act as the captions in the comic, conveying thoughts and feelings, and even reoccurring themes with the same repeating tune. This is a superb translation between two such different mediums, comic and musical.
However, the graphic memoir touches on so many more different topics and aspects of Alison Bechdel’s life, balancing it perfectly and without it feeling like one outweighs the other. Though it was necessary to focus on one aspect more in a shorter musical, I can’t help but feel disappointed on the cut of other elements like their bond through literature, her father’s death and her OCD as a child. They were the parts that touched me the most while reading the comic. Some are briefly mentioned but the musical does not go in depth about it but rather focuses primarily on the growth of Alison inside and out. Regardless, the musical touched on most of the major points and by deciding to focus on Alison’s journey of discovering herself, it does not feel not cluttered or confusing.
As always, the production was exceptional, from the set to the costumes, and especially the lighting by Alan Brodie, is amazing. I was seriously impressed when the lighting was used to indicate that the children watching TV and in New York, though the set doesn’t change the silhouette of the iconic NYC apartment stairways suddenly transfers the family from their home. Lighting really does wonders. The orchestra, hidden behind a transparent wall, also charms the audience into the world of Fun Home.
There are three actors with the role of Alison in different stages of life. The adult Alison (Sara-Jeanne Hosie) remembers and records her childhood self (Jaime MacLean) and college self (Kelli Ogmudson) by watching them like the Ghost of Christmas Future, unseen and unheard. I am highly impressed by how strikingly similar to the actual Alison Bechdel Sara-Jeanne Hosie looks and the talent of Jaime MacLean. She sung and acted incredibly well, and her chemistry with the other child actors (Glen Gordon and Nolen Dubuc) and Bruce Bechdel (Eric Craig) was charming.
Go check out fun home as Alison finds her true self and reconnect with her family. Student Rush tickets are available at $29 when you buy tickets at the door or online, presentation of Student ID per ticket is necessary.