BWW Review: Southern Rep Theatre Presents Gorgeous Rendition of FUN HOME

BWW Review: Southern Rep Theatre Presents Gorgeous Rendition of FUN HOME
Small Alison and Bruce (Camille Burkey and
Jason Dowies) in "Fun Home'' at Southern Rep.
Photo: John B. Barrios

I love musicals. I love most all musicals. There's hardly ever a musical I come across that I don't like. For the most part, musicals are usually lively, fun, and lighthearted stories set to upbeat music with killer dance numbers. FUN HOME isn't really that type of musical, but it does happen to be among the musicals that I truly think are going to change the world. Why? Because it addresses issues that so often people are afraid to talk about with their closest of friends, much less discuss openly and honestly in a public forum. It is an eye opening, touching, and at times a quite difficult musical to watch; but, it is important because it is real. Despite all of the differing opinions that I have come across about this show and the book it is based on, what I found is that rather than "pushing an agenda" or being "pro this" or "anti that," what FUN HOME does is take a small window of one family's human experience and invites us to shut our darned mouths for just a hot second and LISTEN.

What are we listening to exactly? We're listening to a young woman pushing 40 who is piecing together her past and trying to make sense of it by writing a graphic novel. We're listening to a family who is so less than perfect, but who continues pushing forward as best as they can. We're listening to a mother (Leslie Castay) who, despite seeing all of the struggles her family is facing, makes the decision to love her family where they are and as they are. We're listening to a father (Jason Dowies) who has very serious problems with very serious implications and just doesn't see another way out. The most amazing thing about all of this, is that we're listening to a TRUE story based on the novel Alison Bechdel created about her life. We see her life through her eyes at different ages as she learns to accept herself and to maybe gain some insight on why she is the way she is. Isn't that something we'd all love to know about ourselves?

While I didn't have the chance to see FUN HOME on Broadway, I know Southern Rep did the show justice. With honest and emotional performances from the entire cast, this production was absolutely breathtaking. I always love when the audience surrounds the stage rather than a traditional proscenium setting because it feels more intimate and like we are being invited in to be part of the story. Also beautiful was the way the cast moved almost fluidly around the stage as they changed sets and rearranged pieces for different parts of the show. It was like watching a dance.

BWW Review: Southern Rep Theatre Presents Gorgeous Rendition of FUN HOME
From left: Medium Alison (Taylor Lewis), Alison (Chrissy Bowen) and Small Alison (Camille Burkey) in "Fun Home'' at Southern Rep.
Photo: John B. Barrios

I would normally take a minute to give a shout out to cast standouts, but honestly this cast was so amazing I'd be here all day talking about every single one of them. All of these cast members were perfectly suited for their roles, and gave everything in their heart to this performance. Seriously. Every single one of them. I will say this... while it felt slightly trippy to have all three Alisons (small, medium, and adult) on stage at the same time, the three actresses seemed to have formed this incredible bond that is vital to this show working the way it's supposed to. They're three different people playing the same character at different stages of her life, so they have got to be on the same page as far as how they understand their character. If even one starts to think about the character differently, the chemistry is gone and it can seem like three separate characters rather than only one person. Brava to Chrissy Bowen, Taylor Lewis, and Camille Burkey for pulling this off flawlessly!

What did I take away from FUN HOME? Compassion. Understanding. Forgiveness. Whether or not we agree with each other's lifestyles, choices, beliefs, we are all human beings who are doing the very best we can to navigate this crazy world. We must, must, must try to understand each other, be compassionate towards each other, and learn to forgive each other if we are ever going to stop this cycle of hate that our world has seen recently. Does it mean we all have to agree? Absolutely not. It's impossible for every single person to agree on every issue. That's not the point. The point is kindness. The point is instead of arguing until we are blue in the face, why don't we just try closing our darned mouths and LISTENING to what someone else has to say so that we can begin to heal.

Thanks to Southern Rep for sharing this story, and thank you to Alison Bechdel for being brave enough to show us that life is messy, but that's ok.

There's a few weeks left to see the show! The closing date is October 22, so make sure you go on over to http://www.southernrep.com/ for tickets and more information.


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