Winner of five Tony Awards in 2015, including Best Musical, Fun Home is an emotional rollercoaster for those involved and those lucky enough to see the harrowing tale of one unique family unfold onstage. The Broadway hit, adapted from Alison Bechdel’s 2006 graphic memoir, was brilliantly crafted by Lansing-raised lyricist Lisa Kron and Jeanine Tesori.
Fun Home is an autobiographical interpretation of Bechdel’s home life; segments of her life growing up and reflecting on those experiences as an adult. The story centers on the relationship Alison had with her parents; most importantly her father, as he struggles to finally confront his life as a married, gay man during the less accepting and often scrutinizing eras of the 60s and 70s. The idea of finding yourself and subsequently living life in the skin you choose is a strong message throughout but sets the stage for conflict, drama and humor, all of which culminates into a heartwarming tale that’s relatable for all.
While this specific family dynamic is not something that’s an obvious connection for most, Actress Susan Moniz would argue that just about anyone can see themselves and their family through the lenses of Fun Home. Moniz portrays Allison’s mother, Helen, on the show’s current tour, which has hit the stage nearly 200 times, nationwide, thus far.
“The only requirement that you need to connect is that you need to have been a child at some point in your life and have had a family,” said Moniz.
The recognition the cast receives for their portrayal of such relatable characters with intense emotion is well-deserved. It’s these moments of revelation from viewers that makes this show so rewarding for everyone involved.
“The audience’s response is quite remarkable,” said Moniz. “It reaches people on so many different levels because it’s not only about someone coming to terms with their sexuality or being comfortable in their skin, it talks about family dynamics. People come up to us after the shows and say, ‘you’ve played out my life’ and it’s emotional for us.”
Fun Home isn’t your typical Broadway spectacle. There aren’t excessive set designs and boisterous choreography; instead the show relies on the strength of its messaging and the craft of its creators to drive home something genuine and special. It’s these components that made the show a front runner during the 2015 Tony Awards.
“It was a very surprising show. For one, there hadn’t ever been a show with the lead woman being gay. It was also written by women — the composer, the lyricist and the author,” said Moniz. “It’s a small show, not a big spectacle, but it still hits home and that’s why it’s a standout. It’s a gentle and powerful show.”
Fun Home will show at the Michigan State University Wharton Center of Performing Arts from June 6 – 11 on the Cobb Great Hall stage. For tickets and additional information visit, WhartonCenter.com.