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Tuesday, October 27, 2020

“Fun Home” takes the stage at Western

By Quynh Trinh

A standing ovation filled the Performing Arts Center’s main stage as the cast members bowed after an emotional performance of the musical “Fun Home.”

According to the “Fun Home” official website, this Tony-Award-winning musical follows Alison Bechdel, a lesbian cartoon artist from Pennsylvania who struggles to understand her family. The story takes the audience on a journey through three stages of Alison’s life: her childhood, her college experiences and her adulthood.

Director Jim Lortz said theater can change lives and move people. He said the show has the potential to impact the lives of many Western students because it has a way of moving people and touching their souls.

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The dysfunctional family had to answer to their miscommunications between each other. The quick lashouts from the father, the chananeggians of the children, and the mother’s intolerance for it all had brewed up a storm in the house.

Throughout the show, the set design featured artwork in a cartoonist style, as if it was created by Alison. However, the house is painted in black and white to represent the contrasting family dynamic.

Junior Elizabeth Feeney, an audience member, attended the show and said she was compelled by the story.

“It was a rollercoaster of emotion from start to finish,” Feeney said. “I’m still a wreck, it was a beautiful show.”

According to Lortz, the cast members auditioned for “Fun Home” during the first week of the quarter. The next three and a half weeks were filled with rehearsals.

“I can’t get through a night without weeping at some point,” Lortz said.

He explained that Composer Jeanine Tesori’s soundtrack connected to the heart as it was beautifully crafted.

Lortz received a Master of Fine Arts Degree from the University of Montana and has been teaching for about 30 years. His background in theater started in first grade, moved on from high school to now as a director.

Lortz said he felt lucky to be able to direct “Fun Home” because he only directs one show a year.

“I love this cast, they’re a great bunch and it’s an honor to me,” Lortz said.

Lortz had first seen “Fun Home” in New York. He said the play’s topics of relating to family, forgiveness, understanding, love and letting go stuck with him.

He said the show has evolved on many different stages and that it takes a real group effort to put this on. He admired the cast he got to work with as they were open to changes and did their best to be honest with the piece.

The struggles Alison and her family face are told through multiple songs such as “Helen’s Etude,” “Edges of the World” and “Flying Away.” The lyrics describe the inner self conflicts of the Bechdels.

Senior Gabi Gilbride, who plays Alison’s mom Helen, said there are some difficult moments in the play, but it balances out the tough topics with humorous and lighthearted scenes.

She said there are moments in the play that allow the audience to reflect on their regrets, and the desire to look back and change the past.

“You don’t have to be afraid of your past, but should embrace it. It’s freeing,” Gilbride said.

Junior Zaldy Rogero and senior Jesse Floyd came to support some of their friends who are in the show. Rogero and Floyd said before going to the musical, they didn’t know much about “Fun Home,” but they said they both felt it was worth seeing if their peers were part of it. By the end of the play, they could only describe it as captivating.

Though the crowd only took up half of the theater, their cheers and support filled the space from beginning to end.

“Fun Home” will be showing at Performing Arts Center through Sunday, Nov. 4. For more information, visit the PAC’s main page.

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