Review: Bouncing Fun with FUN HOME at Brookfield Theater For The Arts

A beautiful masterpiece that you won't want to miss.

By: Dec. 02, 2023
Review: Bouncing Fun with FUN HOME at Brookfield Theater For The Arts

We all have those shows that cut you to your core in a way that few other things can, and based on the opening night audience at the Brookfield Theatre for the Arts, Fun Home is that show for a lot of people. Fun Home is the 2015 Best Musical Tony Award Winning musical with book & lyrics by Lisa Kron and music by Jeanine Tesori, based on Alison Bechdel’s graphic novel of the same name. With that type of introduction, it’s needless to say that expectations were high going into this show. Putting on this musical is one thing but doing it justice is another.

From the moment the band walked on stage, the cast and crew of Brookfield Theatre’s Fun Home had the audience caught: hook, line, and ring of keys. Under the direction of Bennett Cognato and Rob Bassett, each aspect of the production was stunning in its own right, but the way that everything came together made the night magical. Musicals in small theaters always have to ask the question, “Where do we put the band?” Some theaters try to shove them off stage, others hide them behind set pieces, but Brookfield decided to integrate them with the set upstage with Alison, which not only helped the band feel natural and part of the experience, but also helped reinforce the idea that Adult Alison remains outside of the actions of the past. Despite the band being in sight the whole show, the band, under the direction of Sarah Fay, blended in with the experience, creating this feeling that the music was natural and immersive. An immersion that was expanded by Stephen Cihanek’s lighting design. From the bright exterior of rural Pennsylvania, to the equally but vastly different brightness of New York City alive at night, the entire stage was bathed in radiance that ebbed and flowed with the action happening on stage.

While music and lighting are essential to enhancing the experience, no show would be complete without the cast and crew, and Cognato & Bassett had a superstar cast that brought their passion to life! The role of Alison is so paramount that Fun Home requires three of them; and the combination of Janice Gabriel (Alison), Hannah Rapaglia (Medium Alison), and Harriet Luongo (Small Alison) was a home run. The three of them so perfectly embodied the quirks of their age while still feeling like the same person. This trio brought such heart to this show, and a continuity that a show like Fun Home requires. But heart needs a foil, and this darkness shone bright with Tony Bosco-Schmidt’s Bruce. Bruce is a tortured soul; a man repressing the truest fact of his life and that tension is eating him up inside. It’s easy to throw Bruce up as a martyr in this way, but the truth is never as black and white, as Bosco-Schmidt powerfully reminded the audience that you can’t use denial as an excuse for your own terrible deeds. Despite all of Bruce’s flaws- the betrayals he’s committed, his obsessive mind, and his controlling nature- you can’t help but understand the pain that he feels as he stands on the curb of Route 150, and the guilt that Alison expresses as she grapples with her fears that her beginning was his end.

As the lights faded and the crowd leapt to their feet, you can’t help but be moved from Fun Home. And as much credit as Bechdel, Kron, and Tesori deserve for their roles in its creation, in this moment, you cannot ignore the passion and thoughtfulness that Bennett Cognato and Rob Bassett poured into this production. For every ounce of love that the co-directors gave to their cast and crew, the cast and crew gave twice as much back to them, and that feeling was palpable as the house lights came up after the show. You’re not going to want to miss this, and tickets are going fast. Fun Home runs at the Brookfield Theatre for the Arts from December 1st-16th, 2023, with shows on Fridays & Saturdays at 8pm, and Sundays at 2pm. Tickets can be purchased at the door, but I wouldn’t take that risk: Buy them ahead of time at the link below.