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Fun Home (Broadway)

Last week, I had the good fortune of seeing most of the Original, Tony winning cast in FUN HOME on Broadway. What a powerful night at the theatre.

Based on the graphic novel by cartoonist Alison Bechdel, the musical tells the story of a gay cartoonist looking back at her youth and coming of age years.

At her drawing desk, she has flashbacks to her younger years growing up in a funeral home (that's where FUN home comes from, with Alison and her siblings creating catchy imaginary TV commercials for their father's business) and wrestling with discovering herself and the illusion of her home life.

The opening song "Welcome to Our House on Maple Avenue" manages to detail not only the illusion of the perfect home to visitors, but also of the perfect folks inside, who each struggle with their own facades to the world and each other.

Michael Cerveris plays Alison's dad Bruce, a gay man in the late 1960's with no option of coming out, constantly caught in affairs with college age guys and putting on a mask that his wife clearly sees through.

Judy Kuhn is excellent as Helen, forced by the times to stand by her man for the sake of the family and "appearances" but dealing with her husband's issues in public at times and privately every day and night.

One of the most powerful moments of the play detail when college age Alison has come out and assumes that she has finally found something in common with her father they can bond over. His refusal to even discuss it is heartbreaking for both.

The play brilliantly dances a fine line between humor and tragedy. One of the opening songs ends with Alison stopping and calling out loud a caption for a panel in her drawing.

"My dad and I both grew up in the same small Pennsylvania town, and he was gay, and I was gay, and he killed himself, and I...became a lesbian cartoonist."

And THAT tone rolls on throughout.

Alison is played as an adult by Beth Malone, as a child by Sydney Lucas and as a college teen by Emily Skeggs, great performances all.

" I'm Changing My Major to Joan" is hilarious and Kuhn's eleventh hour "Days and Days" is a powerhouse.

The music is by Jeanine Tesori, book and lyrics by Lisa Kron. Ive seen Tesori's other work on Broadway, including the fun and upbeat "Thoroughly Modern Millie" and the powerful "Caroline or Change" but this is her finest work.

Powerful, serious, sad, funny and nearly always moving, FUN HOME is a deserving winner of the Best Musical of 2015 Tony.

Cerveris is amazing and the material matches him.

FUN HOME gets an A.

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