Regional Reviews: Connecticut and the Berkshires
Also see Zander's review of The Revisionist
Director Kevin Connors has sensitively staged the show and he works perfectly with his actors and his topnotch design team. Because of the content, centering on a lesbian cartoonist trying to come to terms with her father's death, Fun Home may never be a musical for everyone. But there are most certainly many rewards to be had.
Right from the opening moments, when we are introduced to the main characters, Fun Home will strike a chord in anyone who has ever had problems with their parents. The leading character of Alison is actually represented by three different actresses: the adult Alison, looking back at her life; Middle Alison, who is college age; and Small Alison, who is a wide-eyed child. The three parts are all assayed by fine performers here.
Playing Middle Alison, Megan O'Callaghan is a wonder, completely riveting in all of her moments onstage. She gets to deliver the funny and triumphant "Changing My Major," which she sings sensationally in the aftermath of her character's first sexual experience. This young actress did well in a small role in Music Theatre of Connecticut's recent staging of The Bridges of Madison County, but she is simply outstanding herean actress to watch. Amy Griffin is very good as the adult Alison; the whole show is really seen through her eyes. The writers provide marvelous songs for all the characters, with Griffin given the heart-tugging "Telephone Wire," which she achingly delivers. Also shining is Caitlin Kops as Small Alison, especially in the scenes with her father and singing the touching "Ring of Keys," as she first begins to discover her sexuality.
All of the actors in this cast have a chance to excel. As Alison's father Bruce, Greg Roderick is excellent, and he is able to convey a wide range of emotions, sometimes, it seems, all at once. As Helen, Alison's mother, Raissa Katona Bennett is heartbreaking and she delivers a devastating "Days and Days" near the end of the show, summing up the story of her life and marriage. In smaller roles, Abby Root is just right as Joan, and Small Alison's brothers are played by the adorable Jonah Frimmer and Ari Frimmer (siblings in real life). Playing several different parts, Anthony Crouchelli is just about perfect, suitably young and good-looking, with the ability to switch characters at a moment's notice.
Fun Home is performed on a wonderful multi-level set, expertly designed by Michael Blagys, who is also responsible for the superb lighting design. Costumes by Diane Vanderkroef capture the time period of the 1970s ideally, especially in an amusing, full-cast fantasy number called "Raincoat of Love." The onstage band is just fabulous, headed by musical director Thomas Conroy.
The moving nature of the plot and the characters in Fun Home shine through in this first-rate production at Music Theatre of Connecticut. Fun Home is quite an emotional musical and it is happy news that director Kevin Connors and his fellow artists have done full justice to it.
Fun Home, through May 6, 2018, at Music Theatre of Connecticut, 509 Westport Ave., Norwalk CT. For tickets, please visit www.musictheatreofct.com or call the box office at 203-454-3883.