What happens when you combine Pride celebrations with the life story of a brilliant lesbian cartoonist whose name has become synonymous with feminist perspectives on popular culture? You get Fun Home, a Tony Award-winning story of a daughter and father, of coming out and coming to terms with a life shaped by a family’s secrets.
Previews for Studio Theatre’s latest production start on June 28, just in time to provide a beautiful conclusion to Pride month. The musical is based on the autobiographical graphic novel of the same name by cartoonist and writer Alison Bechdel. In addition to Fun Home, Bechdel is perhaps best known to general audiences as the author of the “Bechdel test,” which simply asks whether a given piece of media—be it a movie, a play, or a TV episode—features conversations between female characters on topics other than male characters. But her primary work has been in the realm of comic strips and graphic novels, as the author of long-running comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For.
Fun Home is an intensely personal story that reflects generational changes in attitude toward sexuality and tracks Alison’s journey of self-acceptance.
As the adult artist and writer, Alison (Andrea Prestinario) is a 43-year-old out lesbian seeking answers from her childhood. Fun Home takes you on this quarter-century quest through Alison’s memories, seeing the past from other perspectives: specifically, those of Small Alison (Quinn Titcomb), a 9-year-old kid in the ‘70s, desperate for the attention of her father, Bruce (Bobby Smith), and Medium Alison (Maya Jacobson), a 19-year-old in the throes of her first love, coming out and coming of age in the 1980s.
Music is as powerful a time machine as any, and Tony-winning composer Jeanine Tesori’s score of timely and visceral harmonies, from ‘70s grooves to aching lyrical ballads, leads the audience on Alison’s journey. In Studio’s small, intimate Mead Theatre, you will be able to feel the powerful connection between performers and audience. The sound of stifled tears punctuates the moments when Alison’s story reaches out beyond the stage to deeply touch the hearts of those around you.
“I’ve been excited about Fun Home since I saw it at The Public in 2013,” said Studio Theatre’s artistic director David Muse. “It is a perfect Studio musical—complex, joyful, deeply theatrical, and ready to be seen in an intimate staging.”
Queer audiences have embraced Fun Home because it’s a piece that organically reflects the LGBTQ+ experience. But the themes of identity and self-acceptance are universal.
“I look forward to sharing this story of personal and artistic coming of age with DC,” said Muse.
And if you’re planning a trip to Studio for Fun Home, there’s no better way to celebrate this month of love and acceptance than by hosting a pre-performance Pride party at Studio Theatre’s Milton Bar or Atrium.
You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. And you’ll come back in July for an encore. Pride or not, this heartrending but life-affirming story is one you’ll want to see again and again.
“Fun Home” runs June 28–July 30 at Studio Theatre’s Mead Theatre, 1501 14th St. NW. Tickets start at $75. To reserve your seat or to book the Milton Bar, Atrium, or other spaces available for rental, visit studiotheatre.org.