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Fun Home

a Musical
by Jeanine Tesori (music) and Lisa Kron (book and lyrics)

COMPANY : Out of Box Theatre [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Artisan Resource Center
ID# 5439

SHOWING : February 08, 2019 - February 23, 2019



When her father dies unexpectedly, graphic novelist Alison dives deep into her past to tell the story of the volatile, brilliant, one-of-a-kind man whose temperament and secrets defined her family and her life. Moving between past and present, Alison relives her unique childhood playing at the family’s Bechdel Funeral Home, her growing understanding of her own sexuality, and the looming, unanswerable questions about her father’s hidden desires. "Fun Home" is a refreshingly honest, wholly original musical about seeing your parents through grown-up eyes.

Director Matthew Busch
Lighting Designer Nina Gooch
Bruce Bechdel Stephen DeVillers
Joan Abby Holland
Helen Bechdel M K Penley
Medium Alison Ashley Prince
Alison Emily Tyrybon
Roy/Mark/Pete/Bobby/Jeremy Jacob Valleroy
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by playgoer
Monday, February 18, 2019
How do you fit a funeral parlor onto the tiny Out of Box stage? If you’re Cathe Hall Payne (props and scenic design) and Angie Short (set design), you place a couple of hinged curtained flats upstage center, just deep enough to hide a full-sized coffin. The curtains blend in nicely with the deep red and gold of the walls in the symmetrical set design. It certainly seems befitting of a funeral home. And there’s plenty of room downstage to accommodate scenes taking place in other locations. There’s even a fold-up bed platform that takes absolutely no floor space when folded up against the wall. A small add-on section of the stage down right permanently houses the drafting table used by cartoonist Alison, in whose memory the action of the play takes place. Props help to flesh out the scenes, although the shrub being "planted" in one scene hardly seems of a flowering variety.

Charlie Miller’s sound design is terrific. The musical tracks have a strong synth feel to them, but the volume is just right. Telephone rings and TV sounds are beautifully localized on the stage. Not all technical elements are excellent, though; on opening night the implementation of Nina Gooch’s lighting design showed evidence of late transitions and questionable illumination of the main action. Nicole Clockel’s costumes are fine, if fairly unremarkable, reflecting that this is a modern-day tale.

Performances mesh well. The script requires three ages of cast members: children (the magnificent Celia Reed as Small Alison, the infectiously energetic Micah Parness as her brother John, and deep-voiced Alex Huff as her brother Christian); young adults (the somewhat tentative Ashley Prince as Medium Alison, the breezily confident Abby Holland as her girlfriend Joan, and versatile Jacob Valleroy in a variety of roles); and adults (sweet-voiced Stephen Devillers as the father of the family, empathetic MK Penley as the mother, and ever-present Emily Kalat as the grown-up Alison).

"Fun Home" doesn’t have a lot of dancing, but Jordan K. Smith’s choreography adds brightness to the few numbers in which dancing is an element. Annie Cook’s music direction gets good vocal performances out of the entire cast. Matthew Busch’s blocking makes great use of the stage. The visual and aural qualities of the musical are of a high standard, although Ms. Prince and Ms. Kalat seemed to show some signs of vocal strain on opening night, with vocal highlights being Ms. Penley’s "Days" and everything sung by the astounding Ms. Reed.

The story of "Fun Home" is a generally sad one, as Alison Bechdel (a real-life cartoonist) comes to grips with her homosexuality and that of her father at about the same time in her college years. She is writing a graphic novel describing her past, using a box of her father’s belongings as triggers for some of her memories, and attempting to caption the images she is drawing. It’s a sweet, sad story, being given an effective production at Out of Box. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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