Review: FUN HOME at Copley Theatre

Fun Home runs through September 18.

By: Aug. 13, 2022
Review: FUN HOME at Copley Theatre

The third production at the Copley Theatre in Aurora is the 3 time Tony winning musical (2015 Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical and Best Original Score) Fun Home. It was adapted from the 2006 memoir of Alison Bechdel. It is the story of Alison's journey discovering her own sexuality and her relationship with her closeted gay father Bruce as she tries to discover the truth about his mysterious life. Adult Alison provides the narration through a series of non-linear vignettes. There is also Small Alison ( age 10) and Middle Alison (college age).

Emilie Modaff's Paramount debut (as is most of the cast) as Alison is tender, loving and tough. Alison is working on her memoirs in the present day. She recalls two very distinct time periods in her life. The first is when she is roughly 10. We are introduced to Small Alison (Milla Liss is stunning and what a voice) who is dealing with the somewhat obsessive demands of her father Bruce (multi talented and Jeff-Award winning Stephen Schellhardt). Alison recalls playing "airplane" with her father while he was going through a box of junk and valuables he has collected from a barn. There will be a visitor from a local historical society to view their ornate Victorian home he has restored. His wife Helen (Emily Rohm as the wife who has seen a lot and it shows) tries to keep everyone grounded as Bruce obsesses about the house. At this point we meet Medium Alison (Elizabeth Stenholt giving an incredible performance) talking with her father about her anxiety of starting college. Small Alison and her brothers (Jaxon Mitchell and Ezekiel Ruiz living up to the personification of brothers ) perform a show stopping imaginary ad for the funeral home their father runs. Pure joy to watch! Medium Alison is not sure if she should go into the college's gay union. She meets Joan (portrayed with great compassion by Devon Hayakawa) which really makes her confused. Meanwhile Bruce tries to seduce Roy (Jordan Anthony Arredondo, a favorite Copley performer) as wife Helen plays the piano. Medium Alison continues to write to her parents but omits Joan or her realization that she is a lesbian. Finally Alison writes a letter to her parents telling them about her sexuality but begins to question herself until Joan kisses her. Later that night she is over the top after having sex with Joan and discovering her sexuality. Another show stopping number! At this point, Alison rethinks the connection of her coming out to her father's death.

The story continues to interweave all of Alison's ages and family experiences leading to the death of Bruce. He tries to hold his life together and fails. His heartbreaking "Edges of the World" leaves the audience in tears. Alison has now completed the circle of herself, her father and her family. The three Alison's remember playing "airplane" with their father. It is a moment of a perfect memory ("Flying Away").

Under the direction of Jim Corti and Landree Fleming, this cast presents an unforgettable evening of theater. The Paramount Band under the direction of Kory Danielson is on the stage behind a scrim. The songs written by Jeanine Tesori and Lisa Kron are the perfect link to the interwoven vignettes. The set design was complimentary to the story. The actors were the stage crew - I think it enhanced the story.

This is an incredibly emotional story. It is about acceptance, forgiveness and love. So many of us feel we are responsible for certain things that happen within our family and our life. Fun Home shows us that this is not always true. Perhaps this story will make at least one audience member decide to look back and say there's more to it than what I know. We each have the power to accept and forgive which is a great gift. We must use it.