“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 become a lesbian cartoonist.”
Based on Alison Bechdel’s graphic novel/memoir, “Fun Home” explores the complicated relationship between Alison and her father, a closeted English teacher. Their story unfolds across three non-linear timelines: a young girl growing up in a funeral home; a college freshman exploring her sexuality; and a 43-year-old cartoonist trying to tell the story in captions.
The musical juggles wide-ranging influences, from disco to folk music to Sondheim. The effect is like stumbling across someone else’s personal playlist, occasionally disjointed but also revealing.
Kelly Tanberg delivers outstanding depth as Small Alison, bolstered by crisp, clear vocals and boundless energy. Showing talent well beyond her years, she captures joy, confusion and heartfelt longing for a parent’s love.
As Middle Alison, Jessica Kahkoska makes great work of the endless self-contradiction that is college life. Her sparkling, lusty “Changing My Major” is the first standout song of the night.
Allison Mickelson nails her impression of the celebrity cartoonist. Her Alison is thoughtful, funny and has nothing to prove. While each version looks very different, all three Alisons blend perfectly in the final song.
Patrick Oliver Jones digs into the complexity of Alison’s father, Bruce, at once charming and cold, clever and clumsy. His classic good looks and stirring voice draw people in without ever letting anyone (especially his daughter) get too close. The lyrical yet infuriating “Telephone Wire” will break your heart.
Small Alison’s big song, “Ring of Keys,” is blocked toward the center section. If that’s your favorite song, choose your seat accordingly.
Bruce repeatedly exhibits predatory behavior, a fact that Alison the narrator reveals but Alison the character never fully wrestles with. First, she retreats into a disco fantasy sequence. Later, his crimes are overshadowed by adult Alison’s knowledge that this will be their final conversation.
“Fun Home” depicts multiple homosexual relationships, including kissing, mild undressing and suggestive dialogue.
Fine Arts Center
30 W Dale St
Box Office: (719) 634-5581
Playing March 29 – April 22, 2018 (buy tickets)
Running Time: 1 hour, 40 minutes with no intermission
Admission: $45 premium