By Mary Damiano
I thought I’d been to the Lake Worth Playhouse before, but walking into this grand old theatre, originally designed as a cinema, I realized it was my first time there. It’s a great venue for Fun Home a fun, insightful show that mostly takes place in the past, although its dysfunctional family dynamic is timeless.
Based on cartoonist Alison Bechdel’s graphic novel, Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic, the autobiographical musical examines Alison’s struggle to understand her family life growing up, especially her relationship with her dad, her growing awareness that she’s gay, and her dad’s death when she was in college. The title comes from the slang term for her family’s funeral home.
Fun Home features three versions of Alison—Small Alison, played Kaia Davis at the performance I saw; Medium Alison, played by Jenna Brooke Bellinato; and adult Alison, played by Jamie Mattocks. Each Alison gets a spotlight song. For Small Alison, its Ring of Keys, which describes her sudden awareness of her attraction to a woman. Davis, who possesses true stage presence, belts out the song like an old pro. Exuberance shines through Bellinato’s performance of Medium Alison’s big number, the adorable, playful, Changing My Major. And Mattocks beautifully illustrates Alison’s understanding of her family with Maps.
Aaron Bower is heartbreaking as Alison’s mom Helen, especially on Days and Days, one of the best moments of the show. Michael Coppola’s portrayal of Alison’s dad Bruce—creepy, loving, abusive, and controlling—is spot on.
The three child actors in Fun Home are double-cast, and the night I saw the show, Small Alison’s young brothers were played by Ava Anger and Violet Segal, who ably portrayed the boys. The kids’ big number, Come to the Fun Home their “commercial” for the funeral home, is delightful.
Sabrina Lynn Gore, a Carbonell Award nominee this year for her superb performance as the queen in Head Over Heels at Slow Burn Theatre Company, proves herself to be a skillful and imaginative director. The production design is cohesive and compelling. She keeps the pace brisk and the 90-minute show flies by. She deftly moves her cast around Ardean Landhuis’s heavy, clever multi-level set, highlighted by his vibrant lighting.
This is your last weekend to see this terrific production. Don’t miss it.
Fun Home runs through October 16 at Lake Worth Playhouse. For tickets and more information, visit LakeWorthPlayhouse.org