So how did Fun Home, the groundbreaking musical based on Alison Bechdel’s best-selling graphic memoir, become a five-time Tony Award-winning work of art?
With music by the notable Jeanine Tesori and book and lyrics by Lisa Kron, Fun Home made history as the first show written exclusively by women to ever win a Tony Award. That’s right—ever! Not only that, but Fun Home is also the first Broadway show to feature a lesbian leading role, plus its compelling and unconventional storyline (which includes Alison at three different ages, and we love it).
The female-led collaboration between composer Tesori and playwright Kron executed Bechdel’s graphic memoir into a musical with style and creativity. Although the process of adapting the graphic memoir to a Broadway stage was not an easy one, it was one that made sure to leave an unforgettable impact.
Composer Jeanine Tesori explained her urge to adapt this book into a musical stating she, “couldn’t imagine how you turn this book into a musical,” which is precisely why she undertook the challenge (and precisely why you should see it). “The ambition was not to simply deliver the story in the medium of musical theater,” says Tesori, “it was to find an analogous form to the book that was as sophisticated and multilayered as what Alison had done.”
“One of the most stunning things about watching Lisa and Jeanine adapt my book was the way that they homed in on all the crucial emotional moments of the story in this incredibly precise, almost surgical way,” says Bechdel. “Watching my book Fun Home get turned into a musical has been on of the most amazing experiences of my life. And also one of the most surreal.”
Lisa Kron, the mind behind the book and lyrics, elaborates on the process between her and Tesori, stating that they “immersed” themselves in the graphic memoir for nearly six years. “We lived and breathed Alison’s story so that we could make it our own. Adaptation is so tricky. It’s very tempting to look for correspondences: let’s take this thing and translate it into this other thing. But you can’t just translate one form into another; you have to make a parallel work that has its own originating impulse.”
The collaboration between Tesory, Kron and, of course, Bechdel herself, truly makes them the ring of keys that helped build the home that we now call “Fun.”
“Theater is not where we go to see ourselves,” says Kron. “It’s where we go to find other people. I hope that’s what people find when they come see Fun Home.”
You can find these other people and see the collaboration come to life this August! The Long Center will be hosting the Fun Home crew for five performances Yes, fine!) from August 11th to 13th.