BWW Interview: No Place Like FUN HOME For Judy Kuhn
Judy Kuhn, Tony nominee and award-winning singer and actress, wasn't familiar with Alison Bechdel's gripping graphic novel about her unconventional family when she was approached to join the cast of the new musical Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic.
Published in 2006, the novel chronicles Bechdel's tumultuous childhood and youth in rural Pennsylvania, focusing on her complex relationship with her father. Bechdel is also known for her comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For.
"I don't usually read graphic novels, but by Page 21 I was hooked," said Kuhn, who plays the wife of a closeted gay man running a funeral home. "It's an extraordinary family tale, and Alison is a beautiful writer. The creative team doesn't get any better than this." Fun Home explores unanswerable questions surrounding her father's sexual identity as well as the author's own, said Kuhn.
Kuhn has watched the story evolve since lab productions at Sundance and The Public Theater took place two years ago. "This has been an amazing experience, especially concerning the sexual politics. Even though sexuality is a big part of the story, it's about more than just a gay woman coming to terms with her gay father and understanding one's own sexuality," Kuhn said.
"I think it's a universal story about parents and children, about forgiving your parents for the ways they fail you. And it's also about accepting children when they don't necessarily understand them. I think this story will be deeply moving to anyone who comes across it," Kuhn added.
"I find her very compelling and an incredibly strong person," Kuhn said of Bechdel." She puts up with such heartbreak and manages to keep it all together. She's a very cultured person, a musician an actress, an English teacher.
"What's so interesting is the first time I read the graphic novel, I was focused on the textural aspects, and the second time I paid more attention to images, and what's so fascinating is how she juxtaposes text with pictures. It's funny and very theatrical at the same time," Kuhn added.
"I think it's going to affect different people differently," she said of the musical. "I hope they're really moved by it, and I hope it makes people think about the way we love each other, in families and in general.
"At its heart, it's about learning acceptance," she said. "I think there are a lot of men out there who are like the father. We're a more enlightened culture now about human sexuality. I love the journey of the piece, I'm really, really excited about it and people will love it."
FUN HOME opens in preview Sept. 30 and runs through Nov. 3 at The Public Theater, 425 Lafayette St.
Photo Credit: Denise Winters