by Brenda Hillegas
Cartoonist Alison Bechdel’s childhood home on Maple Avenue exists in Beech Creek, Pennsylvania. It’s also a main setting in the musical Fun Home, which is based on her 2006 graphic memoir FUN HOME: A Family Tragicomic. From now until June 18th, you can catch it here in Philadelphia.
Alison and her father don’t always see eye to eye, yet as she grows up, she realizes the similarities and connections between the two of them. In Fun Home, Bechdel’s real-life stories about her sexuality and her relationships with her parents are brought to life on the stage. Her memories slowly play out in front of her and move the musical through three time periods- Young Alison as a 10-year-old (Carly Gold), Medium Alison as a freshman in college (Abby Corrigan), and middle-aged Alison who is now a successful cartoonist (Kate Shindle).
The cast is exceptional. From Small Alison performing a hilarious commercial parody dancing and singing with her brothers (played by youngsters Luke Barbato Smith and Henry Boshart) about their family’s funeral home, to a Medium Alison professing her love for another woman in college, to Alison’s mother Helen (Susan Moniz) breaking down and talking about her less-than-perfect life with Alison’s father, and to Alison’s father Bruce (Robert Petkoff) who fails to hold his life together- every song adds an important layer to what you are witnessing. This show has no intermission because where would you even put it? There’s no room for pause.
I try not to listen to the cast recording of any musical until I actually have the opportunity to see the show. I stress try, because I rarely stand firm on this idea. The year Fun Home was Tony-nominated for Best Musical and Sydney Lucas performed “Ring of Keys”, I was in awe. What a powerful performance from such a young actress. I immediately purchased the entire album. Last night at the Forrest Theatre, Gold as Small Alison absolutely rocked every single song; it’s so incredible to see such passion and emotion in musical theatre. She’ll be going places for sure.
Fun Home has a somber tone- dark at points, and truthful. That’s because it’s real life. Family. Love. Acceptance. Seeing people you love and value in a new light. Skeletons in (and out) of the closet. Fun Home is a once-in-a-lifetime musical, something different and refreshing. Grab someone you care about deeply and head to Fun Home before it closes. You have until June 18th, tickets are available here.