Review: FUN HOME at New Village Arts

Playing through March 3rd.

By: Feb. 19, 2024
Review: FUN HOME at New Village Arts
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The source material of the graphic novel FUN HOME is subtitled “A Family Tragicomic” and that descriptor fits this musical, perfectly.  It will make you laugh and might make you cry, but this nuanced musical features some excellent performances by a talented cast.  FUN HOME is playing at New Village Arts through March 3rd.

Based on the graphic novel by Alison Bechdel, this show tells in non-chronological order with flashbacks, the story of Bechdel’s childhood and the discovery that what looked like an ideal nuclear family was hiding some dark secrets.

Adult Alison (Rae Henderson-Gray) is working on the graphic novel, and as she puts pen to paper her memories come leaping to life on stage.  Opening the show is young Alison (Lena Palke) demanding her father Bruce (Brent Roberts) come to listen to her.

Her mother Helen (Sarah Alida LeClair) manages the house and keeps Alison and her brothers Christian (Zayden McHardy)  and John (Leo Jones) in line to keep everyone and everything up to Bruce’s exacting standards as best as possible.  

Review: FUN HOME at New Village Arts

Bruce is a loving father, but a difficult one.  Artistic and intelligent, he is a high school English teacher, a part-time - mortician at the family’s funeral home (aka the Fun home), and is passionate about restoring old homes to their glory.  He imparted his love of books to Alison, and his opinions on many things including art and drawing.  All about appearances, Bruce is also impatient, quick to anger, and keeps things tightly controlled, in a desperate attempt to control the secrets he is hiding, some of which include his relationship with multiple characters played by Kris Bona. 

When college Alison (Priya Richard) falls in love with June (Lisette Velandia)  and tells her parents that she is a lesbian, she soon discovers that she and her father have more in common than just a love of books and that her parents’ marriage is more frayed than appearances may lead people to believe.

Review: FUN HOME at New Village Arts

This is a musical, with most of the plot sung through, and the entire ensemble is very strong.  The three young performers have a lot of fun making up a tv jingle for the family funeral home “Come To The Fun Home”, which also features very enjoyable and period-appropriate choreography by Patrick Mayuyu, as well as “Raincoat of Love,”  a fantasy number where Alison imagines her family singing on a 70’s tv show.

Other standout numbers include Palke’s “Ring of Keys”, a sweet number where the young girl is fascinated by a butch woman she sees in a diner, Richards “Changing My Major” buoyed by her young love with Joan,  and “Telephone Wire” with Roberts and Henderson-Gray as Bruce and adult Alison as they struggle to express themselves to each other.

The scenic design by Yi-Chien Lee brings multiple locations to the stage easily and with the subtle feeling of a graphic novel in the placement of different set pieces.  Lighting by Curtis Mueller, sound by Ethan Eldred, and Costumes by Carmen Amon round out this picture of the 1970’s.

FUN HOME is a beautiful and moving show with wonderful music, and it explores some dark subjects, including mature themes about suicide.  Yet, it is also a coming-of-age story, and how reconciling the past with the present doesn’t magically make everything better, but it does allow the opportunity to appreciate those good moments that are worth remembering.

How To Get Tickets

 FUN HOME is playing at New Village Arts through March 3rd. For ticket and showtime information go to www.newvillagearts.org 

Photo Credit: Daren Scott




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