Fun Home – a review of the Broadway show by Max B.
Beautiful. I had seen the performance done at the Tony awards, but that was basically it. I didn’t know much more. I didn’t need to. You don’t need to have read the graphic novel memoir Fun Home: a Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel, which the musical is based on, to understand the piece.
The lighting design was by Ben Stanton and he did a terrific job lighting in a very tough environment. For those of you who have not seen the show, it is presented at the Circle in the Square theatre, which is in the round. That means that there are people watching from every conceivable angle, making lighting a real challenge. I saw a lot of usage of moving lights, lots of gobos, but I also saw some good old-fashioned straight lighting. There was lots of use of color temperature to give a sense of place and a lot of tight shuttering to give a sense of location because of the limitations of the In-The-Round staging. There was also a lot of spotlighting, but that is pretty normal in broadway shows. A standout aspect of the lighting was the light squares, gobos, projected on the floor, meant to represent the cartoon squares in the original graphic novel. Also, another cool effect was bathing the stage in 20+ independent squares of colored light. A good job on lighting.
On sound, the design was good, but again due to I think the limitations of the space, to avoid feedback, the actors’ microphones were a little quiet. They weren’t garbled, though. Clear as a bell.
The show is great. I could go on forever spouting things I’ve learned from interviews I watched after the fact. Instead, I’ll just say this: It didn’t win the Tony for best musical for nothing. The actors are great. The singing is great. The story is great. The staging is great. The lighting is great. It’s great. It’s a new format for a musical (nobody has ever really done a musical with a lesbian protagonist). One of the most striking things is that the main character is played by three different people, depicting her at three different stages of her life: Growing up, in college, and middle aged. It has its laughs, but its strength lies in its seriousness. Songs like Ring of Keys will live on forever. I can see Fun Home running for a long time.
Verdict: YOU SHOULD SEE IT.
Here is a montage of scenes and songs from the show: