There is a new wonder team in town: playwright Lisa Kron and composer Jeanine Tesori have been developing a stage musical of Fun Home, the award-winning graphic novel by Alison Bechdel. A semi-autobiographical account of Bechdel’s coming out as a lesbian as a teenager to her closeted father and his dual occupations as a funeral home director and high school English teacher, the story includes several references to every kind of literature you can imagine, and is coming to the stage courtesy of the Sundance Institute Theater Program.
While there are very few details about this new production right now (like when and where we’re going to be able to see this), it sounds just weird and dark enough to work. Bechdel, who also created the equally autobiographical comic Dykes to Watch Out For, has been quoted as describing the Victorian home for which her father painstakingly cared as looking like the house from The Addams Family; she viewed her family similarly. Her father, Bruce, had several affairs with men throughout his young life and marriage to Bechdel’s mother, Helen. A common theme throughout Fun Home is gender identity — Bruce was effeminate, but tried to make his less feminine daughter more feminine despite her masculine tendencies. Bechdel lived her life openly and came out to her parents, and to some extent, she believes this may have played into her father’s death, which she believes was a suicide. (He was hit by a truck two weeks after Helen asked him for a divorce.)
If you’re into weirdo musicals — Little Shop of Horrors, Reefer Madness, Rocky Horror, etc. — then you can only imagine that Fun Home would be ripe for an adaptation. And Kron and Tesori are what you might call “big guns” — Kron is an Obie winner for her own autobiographical play, 2.5 Minute Ride and is a founder of the theater troupe Five Lesbian Brothers. Tesori is also an Obie winner for scoring the off-Broadway show Violet as well as a Drama Desk Award winner for her work on Twelfth Night. Oh, let’s not forget about her Tony nomination for her work on Throughly Modern Mille.
Fun Home is comically dark and deals with very heavy themes, making many, many allusions to The Great Gatsby, Greek and Roman mythology, Oscar Wilde, and even Wile E. Coyote.
Top pic by Nicole Bengiveno for The New York Times
(Story via SheWired)