Written by Joy and Sara
The moment I walked through the doors of the Circle in the Square Theater, I knew I was about to see a show unlike any other. The props on the stage displayed a home whose family I was eager to get to know. The excitement amongst the audience was palpable as we sat in anticipation for the show to begin. Nobody went home disappointed.
Fun Home is based on the graphic novel written by Alison Bechdel. The story is about the author’s life growing up in a small town in Pennsylvania. We get to know Allison at three important stages in her life. We meet her as an adult, thinking back on her dysfunctional childhood and as a college student discovering who she is. There are three brilliant actresses who portray each stage of Alison’s life: Gabby Pizzolo (Small Alison), Lauren Patten (Medium Alison) and Beth Malone (Big Alison).
The show starts off with Small Allison trying to get her father’s attention, she sings an adorable song demanding that her father come play airplane with her. Big Allison captains that scene, remembering that sometimes having children seemed like a burden for her father. From a young age, Alison never fully understood her father; she always felt different from him and assumed that was why they didn’t always see eye to eye. When she is older, her mother tells her a secret that makes her realize her assumption was far from the truth. When Alison gets to college she discovers something about herself that confuses and scares her. But within a short time she happily announces that she is changing her major to Joan. The scene was both hilarious and moving and had us all changing our majors to Medium Alison.
When Alison comes home for a short visit, her mother, played by Judy Kuhn, fills her in on what her marriage has been like. She tells her daughter about the homosexual affairs her father, played by Tony award winning actor Michael Cerveris, has had over the years. How his need for a perfect home and family was his way of distracting himself from how imperfect he felt inside. It was heartbreaking for Alison to hear and she encouraged her mother to stop taking care of her father. Her father already made that decision for himself. After many years of desperately trying to hide who he was, the burden became too hard for him to cope with. He jumped in front of a truck ending his suffering and his life.
This show puts the audience through all sorts of feelings. You can’t help but fall in love with each character and their stories. You feel worried for Alison as a child, hopeful for her as a student and content with how she turned out as an adult. This brilliant piece of theater won the Tony award for “Best New Musical” and it is very clear why. Do yourself a favor and go see this show, again and again and again.