The crowd roared. Even with a half-full Company Theatre crowd that adhered to Covid-19 requirements opening night on Friday, March 13th, this enthusiastic audience was more than ready to be taken away by what theatre does best. Company Theatre co-founder Zoe Bradford provided a special Fun Home introduction and mused, “Theatre has a way of helping you escape reality.”
Five-time Tony award-winning musical Fun Home explores different perceptions of reality within the Bechdel family. They wrestle with it, deny it, but ultimately, must come to terms with it. Based on the graphic novel memoir by Alison Bechdel and directed by Zoe Bradford and Jordie Saucerman, The Company Theatre presented musical Fun Home on Friday, March 13 at Company Theatre at 30 Accord Park Drive in Norwell, Massachusetts and plans for the show’s return when the theatre reopens. Click here for more information.
Under a softly lit, lattice rooftop, Fun Home takes an intimate look inside a family seemingly full of zeal and an antique Victorian house so tidy and flawless flanked with a fireplace, grand piano, and large casement windows, it neatly hides any cracks and crevices underneath. With elegant scenic design by Ryan Barrow and Zoe Bradford as well as rich, emotive lighting by Ethan R. Jones, The Company Theatre unveils this absorbing musical that lures the audience into the Bechdel family’s complicated world.
It’s funny what you recall in life. Memories can be tricky. As time goes by, perspective changes as a person grows, transforming a memory and gradually revealing details once never thought of or understood before. That lattice rooftop seals in cartoonist Alison Bechdel’s intimate memories as she writes her memoirs through her work, ruminating on her childhood and upbringing to find out what ultimately makes her feel like she is stuck in life. Alison uses cartoons because drawing as a child, she recalls, “I need real things to draw from because I don’t trust memory.”
With its share of comedic and uplifting moments, Alison looks back on her relationship with her enigmatic and intellectual father Bruce and her traveling and ill at ease mother, Helen. Alison is the only individual that outwardly transforms in this piece, thanks to the exceptional work of Riley Crockett as adorably precocious Small Alison, and Jaclyn Chylinski who is impressive as naïve, anxious, and excitable Medium Alison. Crockett performs an impeccable version of Ring of Keys and shines with Charlie Flaherty as Christian and Owen Veith as John in the darkly humorous title track, Fun Home. Melissa Carubia is smooth and charismatic as cool and collected Joan.
With black rimmed glasses and short dark hair, IRNE award-winner Aimee Doherty slips into Alison’s façade, a mature, jaded and intellectually-driven individual. With a dark sense of humor, Doherty narrates this emotional journey evoking confusion, warmth, sorrow, and frustration in her fine features while building her strength in each new discovery.
Michael Hammond, in a tenacious performance, embodies the many sides of Alison’s father Bruce. With black rimmed glasses, dress pants, and a collared sweater, he is critical man with a refined intellect, and perpetually occupied to become an expert on most everything. Seemingly a friendly, strict, and hardworking family man, Bruce is also secretive and closed off. Each Alison does a brilliant job in portraying their wrought frustration in every moment they attempt to make a genuine connection to him, but especially in the bittersweet song, Telephone Wire. Hammond’s engaging and affecting vocals capture Bruce’s perplex feelings in each number, including the poignant song Pony Girl, and most notably his harrowing rendition of Edges of the World.
Amy Barker skillfully portrays Alison’s unassuming, overwhelmed, and misunderstood mother, Helen. Surrounded by outward perfection, she lives her life distancing herself from reality reflected in the heartrending and beautiful number Days and Days. Always putting others first, she is a repressed woman following the traditional values of her generation within the confines of her home.
Led by and musically directed by Matthew Stern, the intimate, seven piece orchestra features a soothing, fiddle-laden soundtrack that is a combination of light, airy, and melancholy. From its opening song, It All Comes Back to the Flying Away finale, Jeanine Tesori’s captivating musical numbers hold a spectrum of rich, multi-faceted meaning. The catchy, Partridge Family-inspired song, Rainbow of Love is a particular highlight, enhanced by cheerful retro costumes and illustrating Small Alison’s hope of escape.