Theater West End, Sanford FL
by Carl F. Gauze
Book and lyrics by Lisa Kron
Music by Jeanine Tesori
Based on a graphic novel by Alison Bechdel
Directed by Tara Kromer
Musical direction by Jason M. Bailey
Starring Genica McCleary, Quin Roberts, and Daniella Lang
Theater West End, Sanford, Florida
A small town funeral director hides a big secret.
In rural America, people often hold two jobs just so everything gets done. Bruce (Roberts) is just such guy. He restores old houses and he’s the mortician and funeral director. His children grew up around bodies and death, and after all, it is just part of life. And Bruce also has a secret, one not well kept. He like to cruise, and that requires drive in the big city. And he tales his kids. Eventually they outgrow dad, and when Allison (Genica McCleary) goes off to college, she, to discovers here own secret – she’s a budding lesbian. Naturally there’s some distress over this life discovery, but that works out and dear old dads’ life, who conveniently steps off a curb and into a speeding truck. And where does that leave his long suffering Allison? She has all the paperwork to sort out, AND she needs to find a funeral director.
With a graphic novel back drop, we see Allison’s life slide by – first and bubbly child (Victoria Salisbury) living in a mysteriously repressed household, then as a college student (Faith Janiki) out learning about life and love, and the bird’s eye view comes from adult Allison (McCleary) as the narrator of her own story. My favorite scene comes early all the youngsters are jumping up and down on a coffin singing the title song “Fun Home” and listing all the funeral home amenities, including an “Aneurysm Hook.”
As we wind into the story, Bruce gives us the most complex character with his fluid sexuality and ability to turn abandoned building into architectural treasures though the simple magic of pouring buckets of cash into the termite infested foundations. Then there’s his long suffering wife torn between love of her family and Bruce’s penchant for young men. Allison has adopted to all these issues and lives at a safe point of contemplation. The backdrop of the funeral business makes one thing clear: you get one shot at all over this, and if you fail, all you can hope for is a small granite marker.