Me: Anything else you’d like to say for the blog readers Mohsin Sharif, director of Cabaret’s second mainstage production of the 2018-19 season, Fun Home?
Mohsin Sharif, director of Cabaret’s second mainstage production of the 2018-19 season, Fun Home: Dammit!! I just realized Katie infiltrated this production too!!! I saw her other blog posts and thought, “Well she may be able to pull one over on everyone else, but not for my show, no sir…”
Turns out I was duped by her master sleuthing skills once again, and I should give up on trying to outsmart her ‘cause it’s never gonna happen.
I know this sounds like something I would make up (if I was the kind of journalist with no integrity or sense of ethics), but I assure you, dear reader, that not only did Mohsin send me this response, but I did indeed manage to infiltrate yet another Cabaret Theatre production in order to bring you, my audience, my fans, my closest friends, the inside scoop on what is going on inside of that black box theatre on the corner of Nichol and Suydam.
And what I quickly learned simply by standing outside of the theatre and reading the marquee is that Cabaret Theatre is putting on a show called Fun Home. They don’t even realize it, but they just gave so much away. Gotcha, Cab.
From what I could gather from the script that was given to me about two months ago that I finally looked at for the first time today, Fun Home is a musical about Alison Bechdel, who is not only a cartoonist, but is also like a real live person??? Who exists?? She’s also a lesbian, which, if I am to understand, is pretty significant (other) to the story of the show.
“Fun Home speaks to me on a fundamental level as a queer woman. Songs like Changing my Major and Ring of Keys accurately represent key moments in my life when I was coming to terms with my bisexuality, and it makes me happy to know someone else shared those experiences.”
-Carson Cummins, Assistant Stage Manager
I went to director Mohsin Sharif to get some more info about this musical.
“Fun Home is many things,” he said, “but at its core it’s a story about family, memory, and art. Alison Bechdel, a 43-year-old cartoonist, is the play’s central pillar – she spends the course the show delving into her familial history and hurtling through a journey of self-reflection through the medium of cartooning. I don’t want to give too much away, but this is a complex, beautifully written musical that will affect anyone who witnesses it.”
For the first time ever while writing for this blog, I encountered a person who was wary to reveal too much information to me. Okay, Mohsin, you think I won’t just get my information somewhere else? You’re on.
“Every time I watch this show, I discover something new. I think that is the beauty of theater and this show especially - every person who comes to watch Fun Home is going to come in with a different perspective and have a unique experience.”
-Emily Prestby, Stage Manager
I was on a mission: to find out the most important information about this show. To do this, I went to Mohsin’s second-in-command, his right hand woman, the person who everyone blames for making them cry during Significant Other: assistant director Steph Bradli.
“To me,” Steph told me, “the most important part of this show is acceptance, both of yourself and of your experiences. We can easily spend a lifetime resenting the difficult times we’ve had in our lives, or like Alison Bechdel, we can use them to heal and to create beautiful art out of accepting ourselves and those who have shaped us as human beings.”
Mhm. A beautiful sentiment, and I’m sure it’s very telling of what kind of show this is, but I’m the kind of journalist who needs cold, hard Facts™. I want some SPOILERS. I want my readers to know every single line of the show by heart before going in to see it. Don’t worry, you guys. I’ll get those spoilers for you.
Now, by this point you may be wondering, Katie, you already said that you have the script, why don’t you just individually scan every page, post the pictures, and make that the blog post so we can just read that? And my answer, dear reader, is that I don’t have access to a scanner. So. (It’s okay, don’t feel bad, there are no stupid questions, this blog is a safe space now that David Novis doesn’t run it anymore.)
“To me, the most important message Fun Home expresses is self-acceptance, self-healing, and self-love.”
-Mohsin Sharif, Director
I moved onto the cast members to see if I could squeeze any juicy info out of them.
“I think the show delivers the message that although one may feel lost in different points of their lives, they’ll eventually feel found and at ease when they finally decide to find who they truly are and accept themselves for that,” said Randy Campo, who plays like half of the characters in the musical from what I’ve gathered (Roy/Mark/Pete/Bobby Jeremy). “I also think the show teaches a lot of lessons of hardships and how to overcome them.”
Alright! Now we’re getting somewhere! Hardships! I can relate to that, as it’s been a hardship for me to get any spoilers out of anyone involved in this production so far. All I’ve gotten is that it’s a beautiful musical about family, love, memory, acceptance, art, and overcoming hardship. I’m sorry, you guys. I’m usually better than this.
Despite my despair about ever getting some real spoilers about the show, seeing how I could relate to going through hardships as Alison Bechdel allegedly did (not sure if hers were as difficult as me writing this blog post, but we’ll see, I guess), I wanted to know if there were other things about this show that could be relatable to other people watching it.
“I think there are many themes that are universal in our lives,” Leo Weismantel (Bruce Bechdel) said in response to my inquiry. “The most important to me is looking back at what our parents did and why and how that affected us. This ties into the idea that our parents are people, just as we are, and that we are all human.”
Madhu Murali (Alison), adds, “I also think it’s important for people to remember that (Alison’s) family, like all families, was not all good or all bad. There is nuance of character, especially in Bruce, that is important to consider before we write them off completely in one way or another.”
Olivia Accardo (Helen Bechdel) finished this thought about parents and family. “Being based off a real family,” she said, “the story and characters are some of the most realistic and human characters I’ve encountered as a performer and as a lover of theatre. The show throws the audience into the story, and you are forced to feel everything these characters experience, and really empathize. The audience will feel like they really know these people, and the raw family dynamics is something to which everyone can relate.”
“This show is written from Alison Bechdel’s own experiences, but it is about family. Anyone can relate to at least one part of this musical, because each family has its problems and regrets that in the end shape who each person is.”
-Nish Bagchi, Small Alison
Okay, you guys. That’s all I got. I’m sorry my sleuthing wasn’t as up-to-snuff as it usually is. Daylight Savings Time is still messing me up.
I can tell you this: Fun Home sounds like a fantastic musical that will make you laugh and cry. It’s about a woman looking back through her life and seeing her past experiences and her family in a new light. If you want the spoilers, you’ll have to spoil it for yourself (and by spoil I mean go see the show and enjoy it in a positive way).
Fun Home runs this weekend at Cabaret Theatre on these dates:
Thursday, November 29th at 9pm
Friday, November 30th at 8pm (sold out online, limited tickets available at the door)
Saturday, December 1st at 8pm (sold out online, limited tickets available at the door)
Sunday, December 2nd at 7pm
For more information: https://www.facebook.com/events/355319188578616/
Photography by Steph Bradli