BWW Review: FUN HOME Receives Loving Local Production
FUN HOME is a musical adapted by Lisa Kron and Jeanine Tesori from Alison Bechdel's 2006 graphic novel of the same name. The story is a memoir of Bechdel's discovery of her own sexuality, her relationship with her gay father, and her attempts to unlock the mysteries surrounding his life. It was also the first Broadway musical with a lesbian protagonist. It is told in a series of non-linear vignettes connected by narration provided by the adult Alison character. It ran Off-Broadway from September 2013 to January 2014 where it won three Lucille Lortel Awards (including Outstanding Musical), two Obie Awards and eight Drama Desk Awards. The transfer to Broadway in March 2015 was nominated for twelve Tony Awards, winning five, including Best Musical, and its cast album received a nomination for the 2016 Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album.
The character of Alison Bechdel is portrayed by three actors. 43-year-old "Alison" (Sarah Marie Curry) who is the play's narrator, 19-year-old "Medium Alison" (Taylor Flannigan), an Oberlin student discovering her sexuality, and 10-year-old "Small Alison" (Mariela Denson), a child struggling against her father's expectations.
This winning local production is directed by Lisa Scheps, who anchors the piece strongly in the characters. Staged in three quarter instead of in the round like the Broadway production, it allows for Ia Enstera's marvelously clever graphic cartoon background which helps anchor the work in the source material. The lighting, by Natalie George is perfection, especially in the climatic moment. Adam Roberts gets a wonderful vocal sound from the nine member cast and combo.
The three actresses who play Alison are all terrific, each having her own moment to shine. Sarah Marie Curry, as adult Alison, watches her memories unfold before her with both awe and a palpable pain. Mariela Denson, as Small Alison, is amazing and her song celebrating her awakening, "Ring of Keys", is a highlight of the evening. As Middle Alison, Taylor Flanagan gives us another great performance, especially in her coming out solo "I'm Changing My Major". Sandra Mae Frank, as Joan, Alison's first love, is utterly charming.
Jim Lindsay gives a nuanced and layered performance as Bruce, the closeted father. His final moments, when he sings "Edges of the World", are heartbreaking. Dave Hawks gives a good performance in four separate characters and the young boys, Eric Judge and Devin Gramling, are charming as Alison's brothers. I did find Alejandra Murga's performance as Helen to be a little one noted, but with such a fine cast, this is a minor quibble.
This is a first rate production of an important award winning work that Ground Floor Theatre has done a marvelous job with. It has been sold out, but I advise you to get on the waiting list to try and see this one!
FUN HOME Book and Lyrics by Lisa Kron, Music by Jeanine Tesori, based upon Alison Bechdel's graphic novel.
Running Time: Approximately 95 minutes with no intermission. Latecomers will not be seated.
FUN HOME, produced by Ground Floor Theatre (979 Springdale Rd, Austin, TX, 78702). Ground Floor Theatre is located in the back side of the complex located at the corner of Springdale and Airport Boulevard.
Thursdays-Sundays, December 06 - December 22, 2018 at 8 pm except Sundays at 5 pm.