Come to the Fun Home. No, Seriously – You Should
The Ghent Playhouse‘s production of the 2015 Tony Award-winning best musical, under the direction of “The Mikes” McDermott and Mensching, is sublime. After a 2 year delay from the original COVID-19 shutdown, the show has been re-built to be presented phase where it was once left: a simple set that feels boundless and allows a beautiful story to take the lead.
“Fun Home” was adapted from the graphic novel-style memoir of self-proclaimed cartoonist Alison Bechdel. The plot outlines her childhood, her relationship with her parents, and her coming out as gay while studying at Oberlin College. This intersects with her Dad’s reckoning as a gay himself. Allison takes the audience with her as she examines her parents from a new perspective as an adult.
This is a show I know inside and out. It was popularized right as I was going off to college, and then I was lucky enough to participate in a production of the show during college myself. I was supremely delighted that despite my knowledge of “Fun Home,” this creative version of the show was filled with surprises that kept me actively engaged the entire time. Strongly sang, with fantastic characterization.
Jeffrey Jene delivers a winning performance as Bruce Bechdel, Allison’s father. He is painfully convincing; his highs and lows are vitriolic. The audience can almost palpate the anguish he expresses in the 11 o’clock number “Edges of the World.” His work with this character made the audience understand and appreciate Helen and Roy’s respective pains. Jene and Amy Fiebke’s Helen are wonderful storytelling characters together.
The progression of Allisons are also wonderful. Medium Allison, played by Noah Hamm, provided a new interpretation of the character with some good humor. Siobhan Shea plays Medium Allison’s girlfriend Joan – Shea gives Joan great complexity and tons of humanity. It was a treat to see Hamm and Shea play off of one another as a budding couple. They provide some needed laughter and innocence to an otherwise heavy storyline.
Mother and daughter duo Helen and Roz Annely served fresh emotions in the bookending Big and Little Allisons. A beautiful moment comes in their paralleled blocking throughout the song “Maps.” Really stunning imagery.
Overall, the creativity on the production elements of this show created an environment where the actors were really allowed to shine. Strategic lighting, fold-away set pieces, (Medium Allison’s bed, where she spends a great deal of her time with Joan) and a house right smack dab in the center formed a world where one was never lost for location or context.
I truly hope you find yourself at the Fun Home soon.
Fun Home runs at the Ghent Playhouse until April 10. Tickets are $12 for students and $28 general admission. You can buy tickets here.
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