Rabbi Arnold E. Resnicoff on Broadway’s Fun Home
Well, it was stunning.
I am not sure of the line between a musical and a play with music any longer…and comparing something like this to Something Rotten (a musical I loved) is a little like trying to judge whether a piece of music, a painting, or a statue is “the best” — because I think the diversity on stage has outgrown the line between what is a play and what is a musical.
By the way, I have wondered for years about the lines we draw when it comes to awards, like separating best actress and best actor as an award…and wonder if the changing world, with transgender actors, will force us to redraw those lines as well.
In any event, I think the acting, directing, staging, and the writing — were all as good in this musical (or play with music) as in almost any traditional stage play I’ve seen. And in a strange way, when a line was sung instead of spoken — like “listen to me, listen to me” — rather than make it seem less real, it was as if the music was making the line as real, or even more real, than a simple raised voice would have done.
The story is autobiographical, as I’m sure you know, and it is a story that is funny in parts (thanks to the writing and the staging, there were many well-earned BIG laughs), but it was also sad, touching, poignant — and sometimes just painful. And, because the central character (the woman who becomes — in her own words — a “Lesbian cartoonist”) is always present, looking back at her life at different stages, it even has a touch of “Back to the Future,” I think…at least to me.
It’s amazing to me what is happening here and there on and off Broadway, redrawing lines, and recreating theater. I remember the first time I saw The Lion King I thought I was witnessing a giant step forward, and when I saw Hamilton I realized something had changed in the art form of the musical…but this play (and I keep wanting to say “play,” not musical, despite the music) is something…new….
By the way, I never realized the meaning of the title: “Fun Home,” from the Funeral Home that the father of the family manages. Although, of course, the meaning is ironic in terms of the family life of the characters outside of the business.
Really very happy I saw this….