The USD Department of Theatre presents “Fun Home” as their upcoming production based on Alison Bechdel’s graphic memoir, focusing on her experience with going to college, coming of age and coming out of the closet.
“Fun Home” will premiere Sept. 23-25 at 7:30 p.m. and Sept 26 at 2 p.m. in the Knutson Theatre.
Department of theatre assistant professor and “Fun Home” director and choreographer Joe Stollenwerk said this is not your typical content for a musical.
“It has a lot of humor and joy and it has a lot of emotionally challenging material,” Stollenwerk said. “Ultimately, it really is about healing, coping and finding a way through.”
Senior musical theatre major Taylor Gravert plays Medium Allison in “Fun Home.” Gravert said that in the musical, Bechdel is going back in her life and remembering events that made her the person she is today. Bechdel is portrayed by three different characters serving as representations of different times in her life.
“In a nutshell, ‘Fun Home’ is about coming to terms with you as a person and being able to express that,” Gravert said.
Stollenwerk said he has been pushing for more diversity in the voices and stories the theatre presents, and so “Fun Home” is written entirely by women.
“A rare musical that is made by women and deals with both women and men,” Stollenwerk said. “It also puts lesbians in sort of the front and center, and musical theater has not really done that before.”
Gravert said in the last couple of years, she and other theatre students have been learning more about LGBTQ history, queer representation and theatre.
“It’s nice to be reminded that there are things out there for members of the LGBTQ+ community and that representation is being shown,” Gravert said.
Stollenwerk said an interesting challenge was casting USD students to play the roles of children.
“The three students who play the kids are utterly delightful, they capture all of the joy and frustration of being a kid without having it just be a cartoon of a kid, it’s a very three-dimensional performance” Stollenwerk said.
Stollenwerk said he is really excited for the department to get to share this show live with their audience after COVID-19 impacted their performances last year.
“I think it’s the perfect show to do, to bring us back into live theatre,” Stollenwerk said. “It’s powerful, it’s emotional, there’s a lot of sense of catharsis or release.”
After being masked up and having canceled performances in the past, Gravert said she is most excited to see faces in the audience and do live theatre again.
Gravert said “Fun Home” presents a lot of heavy topics but is also very funny.
“I think people should come see it because it’s a good time and it’s always good to get more representation of the LGBTQ+ community,” Gravert said.
Tickets for Fun Home are available free for students at the USD Theatre Box Office. Tickets are also available to the general public at the USD Theatre Box office, online at https://www.usd.edu/fine-arts/theatre/ticket-information or by calling 605-658-3484.