“What would happen if we spoke the truth?”
- Alison Bechdel
Trustus Theatre continues its dedication to bringing important theatre to Columbia with their production of Fun Home, an acclaimed and award-winning Broadway musical to their Thigpen Main Stage this spring. The musical is a masterful expansion of Alison Bechdel’s graphic memoir of the same name about being able to live in your truth, whatever it may be.
When her father dies unexpectedly, graphic novelist Alison dives deep into her past to tell the story of the volatile, brilliant, one-of-a-kind man whose temperament and secrets defined her family and her life. Moving between past and present, Alison relives her unique childhood playing at the family’s Bechdel Funeral Home, her growing understanding of her own sexual orientation, and the looming, unanswerable questions about her father’s hidden secrets. Fun Home is a refreshingly honest, wholly original musical about seeing your parents through grown-up eyes.
Fun Home’s book and lyrics were written by Lisa Kron with music by Jeanine Tesori. Based on Bechdel's graphic memoir (2006), Fun Home was the winner of several awards at the 2015 Tony Awards including Best Music, Best Score (Jeanine Tesori & Lisa Kron), and Best Book of a Musical (Lisa Kron). Fun Home also won the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award, Obie Award, Lucille Lortel Award, Outer Critics Circle Award, and the Off-Broadway Alliance Award for Best Musical.
Trustus Theatre Artistic Director Chad Henderson is excited to help bring this musical to life on Trustus Theatre’s stage as the play's director. “I directed the production at Pure Theatre in Charleston, SC earlier this year. It sold out and is coming back to Pure for Piccolo Spoleto. So right on the heels of directing that production, I’m returning to my home theatre and working with a great team of Columbia actors and designers. I can already tell that this will be a very different production because all of the artists involved in the project are bringing their own unique reactions to the piece to the table.
“At the heart of Fun Home is a story in which we can all see ourselves," Henderson says. "Examining the truth of our past, looking past the myths we create about our parents when we’re younger, dealing with the societal challenges of being our most authentic selves—these are themes that many of us can relate to. These ideas are explored through the eyes of a lesbian cartoonist who, 20 years after her father’s suicide, is finally ready to look deeper into her relationship with her family and dissect the things she never understood. On the surface, Fun Home could seem like a tragic evening in the theatre. However, the beauty of this piece is that it’s incredibly uplifting and provides us with a feeling of hope by the end.”
Paul Kaufmann, of Season 33’s A Bright Room Called Day, will be playing the role of Bruce Bechdel, Alison’s father. “Playing Bruce is a great challenge,” says Kaufmann. “He’s a character who’s put himself in such a scary and difficult position, and his actions cause great upheaval in his family. Despite that, he somehow has to try and justify his actions to himself. He is deeply in denial about the costs of creating those justifications. He’s trapped himself and ultimately is not successful in finding ‘a way through’ as he sings in one lyric," Kaufmann says.
"Fun Home is such a ‘Trustus show’—with a small cast and a thoughtful, deep, and beautiful play that cries out for sensitivity and compassion—it’s an honor to perform it. My fellow cast mates, several of whom I’ve had the pleasure to work with for years, are phenomenal actors and singers. Our young cast mates are top notch—they’re really dedicated and are doing an amazing job. Randy Moore is teaching us the complicated but beautifully layered score and Chad is guiding us through this intricate piece with a strong vision. The process of putting it together so far has been truly rewarding.”
Cassidy Spencer is bringing the role of one of the three Alisons, Medium Alison, to life. “I think my favorite part about playing Medium Alison is how clumsy and awkward this character is in an endearing way that we can all relate to,” says Spencer. “She often seems to unabashedly say things that many of us think or otherwise, she illustrates feelings that we’ve all experienced, like powerful crushes on our peers or intense nerves. This character is so honest and so charming, and I’m thrilled to bring her to the stage. ...this show is vastly beautiful—not only in its music and story—but in its characters, its message, and its subject area. It drew immense attention when it came to Broadway and I think it’s fantastic that Trustus is bringing the musical to Columbia.”
Stay after the shows on Friday, March 30 and on Friday, April 6 to enjoy an improv comedy show from the very same group that brought you the holiday comedy A Christmas Miracle at the Richland Fashion Mall: The Mothers. Tickets for the comedy show will be sold at the door for $10 ($5 for students) and are all general admission.