Tag: Rob Lindley

Review: Fun Home (Victory Gardens Theater)

Stella Rose Hoyt stars as Small Alison Bechdel in Fun Home, Victory Gardens Theater            
        

Fun Home
 
By Lisa Kron (book & lyrics)
   and Jeanine Tesori (music)
VG Biograph Theater, 2433 N. Lincoln (map)
thru Nov 19  |  tix: $15-$75  |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets
     


    
  

Intimate, ferocious ‘Home’ is as joyous as it is heart-wrenching

  

Rob Lindley (Bruce Bechdel) and Stella Rose Hoyt (Small Alison) star in Fun Home

    
Victory Gardens Theater presents
    
Fun Home

Review by Catey Sullivan

Toward the end of Fun Home, there’s a song called “Edges of the World.” It’s delivered by Bruce, a closeted man in his mid-50s. It’s a harrowing description of his life-long inability to embrace and celebrate his true self. Using his house as a metaphor, Bruce describes himself in terms of physical corruption and devastation. He’s “cracking, “shoddy,” “twisting” and finally, “falling into nothing.” It’s a devastating song of terror and rage at the realization you’ve wasted your life. It is also, in Rob Lindley’s virtuosic delivery, a song that will haunt you for weeks. Perhaps longer.

Hannah Starr stars as Medium Alison in Fun Home, Victory Gardens TheaterBased on Alison Bechdel’s graphic novel of the same name, Fun Home is centered on Bruce’s daughter, Alison. The autobiographical musical follows Alison from her days as a precocious pre-teen who loves drawing and loathes wearing dresses to a thoughtful, confident out-and-proud lesbian artist. But while Fun Home is ostensibly Alison’s story, it’s her father Bruce that shines through with the most ferocious intensity in Victory Gardens’ superb production.

Director Gary Griffin’s ensemble will break your heart with their ability to embody the characters in Bechdel’s story, but it is Lindley who delivers the final anvil blow that will shatter it to smithereens. In the 269-seat Victory Gardens, Fun Home has an intimacy it lacked when the national tour played the 2,253-seat Oriental Theatre last November. This is especially evident in the musical numbers, which often feel like they’re coming at you with the immediacy of your own immediate family.

If the above makes it sound like Fun Home will leave you popping Zoloft like Skittles, rest assured that the production is as triumphant as it is dark. Adapted by Lisa Kron (book) and Jeanine Tesori (music and lyrics), Fun Home is also consistently hilarious. The life and times of Alison and her family are hysterical, starting with the commercial that Small Alison (Sage Elliott Harper and Stella Rose Hoyt, alternating) and her brothers (Leo Gonzalez and Preetish Chakraborty) create for the family funeral (or “fun”) home. The ad has the aesthetic of a Partridge Family number, with shades of the Brady Bunch, Johnny Bravo era. It involves puppets and casket-choreography and is all kinds of brilliant.

  Stella Rose Hoyt stars as Small Alison Bechdel in Fun Home, Victory Gardens Theater Joe Lino (Roy) and Rob Lindley (Bruce Bechdel) star in Fun Home, Victory GardensStella Rose Hoyt, Leo Gonzalez and Preetish Chakraborty star in Fun Home, Victory Gardens Theater

Alison’s travails as she matures into college-aged Medium Alison (Hannah Starr) and (adult) Alison (Danni Smith) are a pitch-perfect blend of humor and sorrow, always edged by a knife-blade of bittersweet sharpness. In Medium Alison’s post-coital “Changing My Major to Joan,” Starr embodies a glorious merger of vulnerability and overwhelming, unadulterated joy. It’s the feeling of falling in love for the first time, compressed into a single three-minute song. Starr is fearless, sending the joy to the rafters. She also captures the pride and dignity that comes with love – no small feat for a scene that has her wearing nothing but underpants, tube socks and a stomach-skimming T-shirt.

Small Alison gets her big moment in “Ring of Keys,” a number that turns a banal household item into an epiphany. The song is intentionally halting, as Small Alison chokes up trying to figure out how to articulate her feelings. Pulling off those precisely positioned tiny rests without sounding rehearsed is exceedingly difficult, but Harper simply nails it. Every meticulously inserted rest sounds utterly spontaneous.

Hannah Starr, Danielle Davis and Danni Smith star in Fun Home, Victory Gardens TheaterRob Lindley and McKinley Carter star as Bruce and Helen Bechdel in Fun Home, Victory Gardens

As grown-up Alison, Smith holds the show together, narrating flashbacks with the poignant hindsight that colors memory. Working at her drawing table. Alison struggles to put words and illustrations to her memories, flooded by a conflicting sea of emotions. From the gleam of an antique silver pitcher that her father bought at a barn sale, the family’s story spins out and fills in. There’s deception and denial alongside love; shards of anger spiking the sweetest memories.

In the language of pop psychology, the Bechdels are a “dysfunctional family.” In Fun Home, the more important classification is at the core: First and foremost, they are a family. Smith’s portrayal doesn’t play down the brutal tragedy that you can feel approaching like a freight train. But in her narration, you can see that family tragedies don’t necessarily define families. Among survivors, death yields healing, renaissance and even art.

Under music director Doug Peck, the Fun Home score is imbued with all the colors and emotion in the spectrum. Peck is to music as Griffin is to dialogue – which is to say, both get to the heart of the matter and make it gleam.

  
Rating: ★★★★
  

Fun Home continues through November 12 November 19th at VG Biograph Theater, 2433 N. Lincoln (map), with performances Tuesdays-Fridays at 7:30pm, Saturdays 3pm & 7:30pm, Sundays 3pm.  Tickets are $15-$75, and are available by phone (773-871-3000) or online through PrintTixUSA.com (check for availability of half-price tickets). More info at VictoryGardens.org(Running time: 90 minutes, no intermission)

McKinley Carter, Preetish Chakraborty, Stella Rose Hoyt, Leo Gonzalez and Rob Lindley star in Fun Home

Photos by Liz Lauren


  

artists

cast

McKinley Carter (Helen Bechdel), Preetish Chakraborty (John Bechdel), Danielle Davis (Joan), Leo Gonzalez (Christian Bechdel), Sage Elliott Harper (Small Alison), Stella Rose Hoyt (Small Alison), Rob Lindley (Bruce Bechdel), Joe Lino (Roy, Mark, Pete, Bobby Jeremy), Danni Smith (Alison), Hannah Starr (Medium Alison).

orchestra

Doug Peck (music director), Charlotte Rivard-Hoster (conductor, keyboard), Corson Barnard (asst. music director), Lewis Rawlinson (cello), Brent Roman (percussion), Mike Matlock (flute, English horn, clarinet, bass clarinet, tenor sax), Justin LaForte (guitar), Ethen Deppe (electronic music designer)

behind the scenes

Gary Griffin (director) Doug Peck (music director), Yu Shibagaki (scenic design), Melissa Ng (costume design), Paul Whitaker (lighting design), Ray Nardelli (sound design), Mealah Heidenreich, Alec Long (co-properties design), Jessica Forella (stage manager), Erica Daniels (managing director), Chay Yew (artistic director), Aaron Shapiro (production manager), Jessica Forella (production stage manager), Merle Reskin (production sponsor), Liz Lauren (photos)

Danni Smith stars as Alison Bechdel in Fun Home, Victory Gardens TheaterHannah Starr stars as Medium Alison in Fun Home, Victory Gardens Theater Stella Rose Hoyt stars as Small Alison Bechdel in Fun Home, Victory Gardens Theater

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October 24, 2017 | 0 Comments More

Review: The Temperamentals (About Face Theatre)

Rob Lindley, Kyle Hatley and Lane Anthony Flores star in The Tempermentals, About Face Theatre           
      
   

The Temperamentals

Written by Jon Marans
at Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont (map)
thru Feb 18  |  tix: $40  |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets   
     

January 22, 2017 | 0 Comments More

Review: Far From Heaven (Porchlight Music Theatre)

Evan Tyrone Martin and Summer Naomi Smart in Far From Heaven, Porchlight Theatre          
      
   

Far from Heaven

Scott Frankel (music), Michael Korie (lyrics)
   and Richard Greenberg (book)
at Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont (map)
thru Mar 13  |  tix: $35-$48  | more info
       
Check for half-price tickets   

March 8, 2016 | 0 Comments More

Review: Funnyman (Northlight Theatre)

Rob Lindley and George Wendt star in Northlight Theatre's "Funnyman" by Bruce Graham, directed by BJ Jones. (photo credit: Michael Brosilow)      
      
Funnyman 

Written by Bruce Graham
Northlight Theatre, 9501 Skokie Blvd. (map)
thru Oct 25 | tix: $25-$79  | more info
       
Check for half-price tickets    
    

September 23, 2015 | 0 Comments More

Review: The Secret Garden (Court Theatre)

Tori Whaples and Elizabeth Ledo star in Court Theatre's "The Secret Garden" by Marsha Norman and Lucy Simon, directed by Charles Newell. (photo credit: Michael Brosilow)        
      
The Secret Garden

Book and Lyrics by Marsha Norman 
Music by Lucy Simon  
Directed by Charles Newell
at Court Theatre, 5535 S. Ellis (map)
thru June 21  |  tickets: $45-$65   |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets 
    
        
                   Read review
     

June 11, 2015 | 0 Comments More

Review: How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (Porchlight Music Theatre)

Fred Zimmerman and Tyler Ravelson star in Porchlight Musical Theatre's "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying" by Frank Loesser, directed by Rob Lindley. (photo credit: Kelsey Jorissen)        
      
How to Succeed in Business
  Without Really Trying

Book by Abe Burrows, Jack Weinstock, Willie Gilbert
Music and Lyrics by Frank Loesser
Directed by Rob Lindley
at Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont (map)
thru June 1  |  tickets: $30-$43   |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets 
    
        
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May 20, 2014 | 0 Comments More

Review: Next to Normal (Drury Lane Theatre)

Susie McMonagle stars in Drury Lane Theatre's "Next to Normal" by Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey, directed by William Osetek. (photo credit: Brett Beiner)        
       
Next to Normal 

Written by Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey  
Directed by William Osetek
Drury Lane Theatre, Oakbrook Terrace (map)
thru Oct 6  |  tickets: $35-$49   |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets 
    
        
        Read entire review
     

August 28, 2013 | 2 Comments More

Review: Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill (Porchlight Music Theatre)

Alexis J Rogers as Billie Holiday in Porchlight Music Theatre's "Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill" by Lanie Robertson, directed by Rob Lindley. (photo credit: Kelsey Jorissen)        
       
Lady Day at
   Emerson’s Bar & Grill
 

Featuring the music of Billie Holiday 
Written by Lanie Robertson 
Directed by Rob Lindley 
at Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont (map)
thru March 10  |  tickets: $32-$41   |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets 
    
        
        Read entire review
     

February 6, 2013 | 0 Comments More