Co-artistic directors of Best Kind Productions, Timothy Matson and Kyle McDavid, saw Fun Home the Musical in New York City last year, and immediately knew it was the perfect fit for their company. However, they never dreamed they would be able to bring it to St. John’s so soon after its hugely successful Broadway run.
“I was reading a magazine and I noticed that on the back it said ‘license now available for Fun Home.’ So I texted Kyle and said ‘I guess we could put an application in just in case’,” Matson said.
“I assumed we’d never get the rights because we’re a small company in a tiny corner of Canada. When we learned we got it, both of us lost our minds. This is a much lauded piece of theatre and we’re just thrilled to have the chance to produce it here.”
The show is based on Alison Bechdel’s best-selling graphic memoir by the same name. Told through three interwoven timelines, the play follows Bechdel as she navigates coming-out, her father’s death, and the unearthing of some unsettling family secrets.
Bechdel’s graphic memoir and the musical it inspired both use mediums that have not traditionally been considered serious art forms to explore dark and complex subject matter.
Matson, who is directing the show, says he thinks it was a bold choice to re-tell Bechdel’s memoir as a musical, but not a totally unprecedented one. He points out that since the turn of the century, more and more musicals have been tackling difficult subject matter, testing the limits of the genre.
“When someone sings in a musical, the idea that a lot of people operate under is that the feeling or the interaction or the conflict has become so great that mere words don’t do the job,” Matson said.
”That’s the case in this show, those moments of transformation when we switch from speech to singing … happen because things have become so elevated.”
Matson says the cast includes a lot of well-known local actors playing roles you might not expect to see them in. The show also features some fresh new talent who will be filling some of the show’s younger roles.
Matson says the cast has brought a lot of insight to the rehearsals and helped make this production of Fun Home the Musical a unique one. Matson and McDavid believe the show will resonate with anyone who has been part of a family, and they can’t wait to share it with audiences in St. John’s.
“It’s just a brilliant piece of writing, it’s a riveting story that’s told in an interesting way. The score by Jeanine Tesori is absolutely gorgeous, it’s one of those stories you get wrapped up in, every note is beautiful, every scene tells you a little bit more about the family that’s central to it. We fell in love with it, as did the rest of the world,” Matson said.