True Art in Fun Home
Life is one big puzzle. In Fun Home, Alison is trying to fit the pieces together, just like all of us. Adapted from the graphic novel written by Alison Bechdel, Fun Home is playing at the Orpheum Theatre in Minneapolis through December 18. Based off a true story, it follows the life of Alison at three different ages. The “Small Alison” is around 10 years old, and struggles to find a good relationship with her dad. The “Medium Alison” just started college, and struggles to find a good relationship with herself. The entire story is told by the modern Alison at 43 years old as she tries to recall memories from her youth. This complicated, yet compelling, storyline and ingenious music led to Fun Home winning the Tony Award for Best Musical in 2014.
After seeing the show, I was a bit surprised. It wasn’t a bad surprise, but there is just a certain expectation when going to see a Tony Award winning Best Musical. This is a modern musical like none other. It is difficult to compare it to other Best Musical winners such as The Book of Mormon or The Lion King. The biggest difference is that Fun Home describes a story with music when it is needed. Most of the songs are just snippets of tunes- collages of a sort. These other classic musicals are either full of music or there are around 20 five-minute songs. I left the theatre without a song stuck in my head. The tunes are not catchy. Again, this is not a bad thing, just unexpected. It’s refreshing to see a progressive piece of theatre on the stage again.
In a talk-back with a few of the actors after the show, they mentioned that most cities have people exit the theatre because of the harsh content of the show. I would agree that it definitely for ages 13 and up, as it suggests. However, it is a true story and is something worth experiencing for teenagers and adults. It is extremely relevant to the 21st century and it addresses some issues we face with our society. Ideally, this is what theatre is meant to do. It is a form of art to make audiences learn something about themselves or the people around them.
The people who help create this piece of art are exquisite. All three women who play Alison (Kate Shindle as Alison, Abby Corrigan as Medium Alison, and Alessandra Baldacchino as Small Alison) exhibit extraordinary talent for the entire duration of the show. Corrigan gives a hilarious performance during the song, “Changing My Major,” about a college girl’s newly-discovered sexual drive. Baldacchino at 10 years old has more control of her voice than many professional adult actors in the United States. It was obvious that each of the cast members has brings a fresh performance each night.
This is a show that is a must-see in our changing world- it is true art. True art makes its audience think.