Fun Home is a new musical based on the book of the same name. The book, described by author Alison Bechdel as “a family tragicomic”, is a graphic memoir of the author’s young life, particularly her relationship with her father. Their relationship is complicated by the fact that he was a closeted homosexual and she is unsure of what her true feelings are for him and what his true feelings were towards her and the rest of their family.
“My dad and I both grew up in the same small Pennsylvania town, and he was gay and I was gay, and he killed himself and I became a lesbian cartoonist.”
I read Bechdel’s memoir on a whim when I was working at my college’s bookstore because it looked interesting, and while I wouldn’t say I was enthralled, I did find it to be more than worth my time. The author sorts through her memories and tries to understand who her father was. While reading, the thought “This would make a great musical” never once entered my mind, but here we are, with the musical running off-Broadway and getting pretty good buzz.
As always, I’m interested in musicals, and if they’re based on something with which I’m already familiar, I’m even more inclined to check them out. Just because I wouldn’t put this particular one at the top of my list for books I’d like to see as musicals doesn’t mean I won’t like it, so I was interested when I saw that this was happening. When I saw that Michael Cerveris would be playing the father, I was even more encouraged because I will never forget the very real terror I felt watching his Sweeney Todd, and believe that he can bring complex characters to life with stunning clarity.
Based on the preview, I really like the look of the musical. The costumes and sets have a quality to them that seems somehow real yet imaginative at the same time. The design isn’t too conceptual, but it also resists being mundane or straightforward. It reminds me of the illustrations in the memoir, which are by no means fanciful, but do more than simply create literal depictions of events or places.
The music doesn’t do a whole lot for me, but I don’t dislike it. With such a short selection in the trailer, I will reserve judgment on that aspect until I can see/hear more, though. I like it more each time I listen to it, so I can imagine I’ll like it more when heard in full.
I’m very much interested in seeing where this musical goes. Its run has been extended at the Public Theater, and with such good reviews, it’s very likely that the show will continue on. It may not make the jump to Broadway, where stakes are higher and success stories for quirky, unique musicals are few and far between, but it can’t be ruled out just yet. Hopefully I can see this show or at least get a cast recording if/when one is made.