‘Fun Home’ Offers a Tragicomic Musical Experience
February 6, 2018
The Virginia Tech School of Performing Arts will present the musical “Fun Home,” opening on February 20. The show — whose Broadway production won five Tony Awards, including Best Musical — will run through February 28 for eight performances in the Squires Studio Theatre.
This tragicomic musical, based on Alison Bechdel’s award-winning autobiographical graphic memoir and directed by Susanna Rinehart, chair of theatre and cinema in the School of Performing Arts, sympathetically asks, “What would happen if we knew and spoke the truth?”
The story unfolds in nonlinear vignettes emerging from Alison’s fractured memory, as she mines her past through words and music for understanding of her childhood, parents, and developing sense of self, with alternating comic and deeply emotional effect.
Virginia Tech welcomes Sylvia MacNab, a sixth-grader at Blacksburg Middle School, to the stage. MacNab and theatre majors Kirstin Wolf, a junior from Forest Virginia, and Caroline Silas, a junior from Fairfax, Virginia, each play Alison during three important ages in her life. Alison tries to make sense of her childhood and college years through her adult eyes as the musical shifts back and forth between each time period.
The cast, crew, and band include Virginia Tech graduate and undergraduate theatre majors and nonmajors, local students Isaac Hadden and Kylan and Beckett Socha, music alumni, and visiting guest artists.
“Fun Home” first opened off-Broadway to positive reviews at the Public Theatre in New York City in 2013 after several readings and performances. It continued on to Broadway and ran for more than a year at the Circle in the Square Theatre, followed by a national tour and productions abroad.
Bryson Baumgartel, a 2014 graduate in piano performance, returns to Virginia Tech as music director for the production.
“When the opportunity arose to take part in this production,” said Baumgartel, “I was immediately excited by the prospect of returning to my alma mater.”
Songs range in style from lyrical ballad to upbeat pop and include “Telephone Wire,” “Come to the Fun Home,” and “Ring of Keys,” which was performed at the 2015 Tony Awards. The book and lyrics are by Lisa Kron, with music by Jeanine Tesori.
“The score is integral in translating this piece from a graphic novel to a stage production,” said Baumgartel. “Music in a musical is all about expressing something words cannot — either because it is bigger than words can describe, or deeply intimate and personal. Alison is represented musically with clearly defined motifs and simpler chord structures. The score also helps to identify the time period that the Bechdel children were coming of age, with allusions to The Jackson 5 and The Partridge Family.”
“Fun Home” is a story of reflection, self-identification, and, ultimately, hope.
Performances of “Fun Home” are:
- February 20–23 at 7:30 p.m.
- February 25 at 2 p.m.
- February 26–28 at 7:30 p.m.
All performances are in Studio Theatre, located on the second floor of Squires Student Center at 290 College Avenue on the Virginia Tech campus. Parents should note that the production contains mild mature content.
Tickets are $12 general and $10 for seniors and students. Tickets may be purchased online, at the Student Centers and Activities Ticket Office on the first floor of Squires Student Center, or by calling 540-231-5615.
Free parking is available on weekends and after 5 p.m. weekdays in the Squires Lot, located at the corner of College Avenue and Otey Streets, in the Architecture Annex Lot on Otey Street, and the Perry Street/Prices Fork lots. Find more parking information online or call 540-231-3200. Alternative parking is available in the Kent Squires parking garage and the Farmers Market metered parking lot, both located on Draper Road.
If you are an individual with a disability and desire an accommodation, please email Susan Sanders at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 540-231-5200 during regular business hours at least eight days prior to the event.
The 2017–2018 School of Performing Arts Mainstage Theatre series will present “The Importance of Being Earnest: A Trivial Comedy for Serious People” by Oscar Wilde April 18-21.
Written by Jessica Talmadge of Santa Barbara, California, a graduate student studying arts leadership in the School of Performing Arts.