I’m a tad tipsy today due to my sewing project (don’t ask, long story!). But I’m happy to give you five slightly tipsy thoughts about StageWorks Fresno’s Fun Home, which runs two more weekends. (It’ll probably be sold out so get tix in advance.)
In fact, I’ll think I’ll make a new blog category for it. Tipsy Theater Thoughts! Here’s episode one!
Fun Home, based on the graphic novel of the same name by Alison Bechdel, is an autobiographical story of a woman diving into her past to resolve her relationship to her father, the volatile, brilliant, one-of-a-kind man whose temperament and secrets defined her family and her life.
- Terry Lewis brings forth a nuanced and astonishing performance as Bruce, Bechdel’s complex father, a performance full of yearning, regret, and unquenchable desire for beauty in his life. One of the central questions of the novel and of the musical – did Alison’s revelation that she’s gay incite Bruce’s demise? – is embodied thoroughly in Lewis’ performance while still leaving the question up to the audience to answer. Lewis vocal work in this show is varied and full of colors I’ve rarely heard from him before – certainly not all in the same show – which helps fill out the opaque emotional life of Bruce in each beat.
- Haley White’s Adult Alison acts as narrator throughout the play, trying to navigate the terrain between her search for an objective memory and her desire to pretend that everything is “fine” – a particular Bechdel trait that can get in the way of grappling with her grief and her understanding of her father. The moment she steps into the narrative, during “Telephone Wire” is as poignant and powerful as anything I’ve ever seen White portray. Her voice is strong, effective, and extraordinarily communicative in its simplicity and clarity at a moment when the characters are, ironically, struggling to communicate.
- Amalie Larsen’s “Days and Days” is an emotional juggernaut giving the show the weight and nuance it deserves. Her Helen is a vibrating chord of tension that gets its release during the number, even as it illustrates how small her life has become.
- Novi Alexander and Thani Brant as Small Alison and Medium Alison respectively are both endearing in their numbers “Changing My Major” and “Ring of Keys”.
- Director J. Daniel Herring’s staging of Fun Home in the round in the intimate Dan Pessano Theater highlights the quality of memory as something so personal, that flows in and out and sometimes has to be re-written for our own good, really suits the material of this adaptation.
Fun Home is a lovely adaptation of the graphic novel, although fans of the graphic novel may find the adaptation a touch more sentimental than Alison Bechdel portrayed. On its own, however, Fun Home is an intimate portrayal of family secrecy, loss, and regret and how one person can grapple with those memories to find herself in the end.
Tickets are selling fast at StageWorks so it is recommended that you order online in advance or arrive 1 hour early to get seats during its final two weekend.
Thursday, July 5th @ 7:30 p.m.
Friday, July 6th @ 7:30 p.m.
Saturday Matinee, July 7th @ 2:00 p.m.
Saturday Evening, July 7th @ 7:30 p.m.
Sunday Matinee, July 8th @ 2:00 p.m.
Thursday, July 12th @ 7:30 p.m.
Friday, July 13th @ 7:30 p.m.
Saturday Matinee, July 14th @ 2:00 p.m.
Saturday Evening, July 14th @ 7:30 p.m.
Sunday Matinee, July 15th @ 2:00 p.m.
PS: In recognition of the themes of suicide and LGBTQIA+ struggle addressed in Fun Home, StageWorks Fresno will be collecting donations for Common Space Fresno and NAMI Fresno throughout the course of the run.