Tag: Yu Shibagaki

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: truth and reconciliation (Sideshow Theatre)

Netta Walker, Latrel Crawford, Keith Surney and Almedia Lee Exum star in truth and reconciliation, Sideshow            
       
  

truth and reconciliation

Written by debbie tucker green
Victory Gardens Theater, 2433 N. Lincoln (map)
thru April 16  |  tix: $20-30  |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets   
    

March 26, 2017 | 0 Comments More

Review: The Walk Across America for Mother Earth (Red Tape Theatre)

Nikos Brisco, Morgan McNaught, Alex Grelle and Ruth Margraff star in Red Tape Theatre's "The Walk Across Americ for Mother Earth" by Taylor Mac, directed by Bonnie Metzgar, part of Steppenwolf Theatre's Garage Rep. (photo credit: Michael Courier)       
      
The Walk Across America
          for Mother Earth

Written by Taylor Mac 
Music by Ellen Maddow 
Directed by Bonnie Metzgar
at Steppenwolf Garage, 1624 N. Halsted (map)
thru April 25  |  tickets: $20   |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets 
    
        
                   Read review
     

April 10, 2015 | 0 Comments More

Review: Both Your Houses (Remy Bumppo Theatre)

Chris Amos and Eliza Stoughton star in Remy Bumppo Theatre's "Both Your Houses" by Maxwell Anderson, directed by James Bohnen. (photo credit: Johnny Knight)        
      
Both Your Houses

Written by Maxwell Anderson
Directed by James Bohnen
at Greenhouse Theater, 2257 N. Lincoln (map)
thru Nov 9   |  tickets: $47-$52   |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets 
    
        
                   Read review
     

November 1, 2014 | 2 Comments More

Review: Mercy Strain (American Theater Company)

Michael Milligan stars in American Theater Company's "Mercy Strain" by Michael Milligan, directed by Tom Oppenheim. (photo credit: Michal Daniel)        
      
Mercy Strain

Written and Performed by Michael Milligan  
Directed by Tom Oppenheim
American Theater Company, 1909 W. Byron (map)
thru Oct 18  |  tickets: $43-$48   |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets 
    
        
                   Read review
     

October 1, 2014 | 0 Comments More

Review: Let Me Down Easy (American Theater Company)

Usman Ally stars in American Theater Company's "Let Me Down Easy" by Anna Deavere Smith, directed by Bonnie Metzgar. (photo credit: Michael Brosilow)        
      
Let Me Down Easy

Written by Anna Deavere Smith
Directed by Bonnie Metzgar
American Theater Company, 1909 W. Byron (map)
thru Oct 10  |  tickets: $43-$48   |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets 
    
        
                   Read review
     

September 30, 2014 | 0 Comments More

Review: The Year of Magical Thinking (American Players Theatre)

Sarah Day stars in American Players Theatre's "The Year of Magical Thinking" by Joan Didion, directed by Brenda DeVita. (photo credit: Zane Williams)        
      
The Year of Magical Thinking

Written by Joan Didion  
Directed by Brenda DeVita
American Players Theatre, Spring Green, WI (map)
thru Oct 4  |  tickets: $44-$70   |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets 
    
        
                   Read review
     

August 8, 2014 | 0 Comments More

Review: Saturday Night / Sunday Morning (Prologue Theatre)

Kyra Morris and Krenée A. Tolson star in Prologue Theatre's "Saturday Night/Sunday Morning" by Katori Hall, directed by TaRon Patton. (photo credit: Joel Moorman)

       
      
Saturday Night /
   Sunday Morning

Written by Katori Hall 
Directed by TaRon Patton
at Steppenwolf Garage, 1624 N. Halsted (map)
thru April 19  |  tickets: $20   |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets 
    
        
                   Read review
     

March 31, 2014 | 0 Comments More