Posts Tagged Lucille Lortel Award
Fun Home – Play Review
Posted by Darshana V. Nadkarni, Ph.D. in Play Reviews on October 19, 2018
It’s remarkably powerful, it’s touching, it makes you laugh, it makes you cry, it’s intimate, it’s deeply personal and political at the same time. Based on autobiographical graphic novel by Alison Bechdel, the play Fun Home focuses on the theme of sexual identity. Through very powerful and familial context of father-daughter relationship, the musical explores the cost of living in the closet and the possibilities that open up, on coming out. Fun Home has won several awards including Lucille Lortel Award, Outer Critics Circle Award, Obie, Award, and New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award and has garnered five Tony Awards including “Best Musical”.
While prejudice remains as a dark and ugly presence in the world today, Fun Home helps us see the costs that societies, families and generations bear due to hidden and overt biases. Born in 1930s, a husband and father, Bruce Bechdel (James Lloyd Reynolds) lives a closeted life. A caring husband and father, Bruce hides a big secret that diminishes his accomplishments, at least in his own mind. He channels his frustration into an obsession with cleanliness, obsession with dressing his daughter in girlie attire and looking for secret avenues to fulfill his desire. He has built a beautiful family with his wife, Helen Bechdel (Crissy Guerrero), his sons, Christian (Jack Barrett, Dylan Kento Curtis), John (Billy Hutton, Oliver Copaken Yellin), and his daughter Alison. The play mainly centers on his relationship with his daughter, Alison. Moira Stone (as narrator Alison), Lila Gold (as young Alison), and Erin Kommor (as older Alison) are all super fabulous in their roles and vividly bring out the complex father-daughter dynamics at various stages in the story. When Alison grows up and goes away to college, she meets Joan (Ayelet Firstenberg) and experiences love’s first stirrings. Terrified and excited, Alison tries to quosh the feelings at first and later explores them and comes out as a lesbian.
Special kudos to scenic designer, Andrea Bechert, fabulous stage manager, Randall K. Lum and assistant stage manager, Emily Anderson Wolf for beautiful staging and scenes. Robert Kelley is a brilliant director and in Fun Home, the story of impact of prejudice is brilliantly told.
Somewhere between the father who felt compelled to live a lie his whole life, and a daughter who finds the environment and courage to seek fulfillment on her own terms, lie the simple truths about both the suffering and cost of having to hide who you truly are, and the joy of embracing your whole self. Great kudos to Alison Bechdel for embracing her whole self and finding to courage to share the story. It was Lisa Kron who was an early fan of the story and with Bechdel’s blessing, teamed up with composer Jeanine Tesori and adapted the graphic novel for the stage, as a musical. In blending this beautiful human story told through pictures with stirring lyrics, the trio has carved a straight path to the human heart.
This is a not-to-miss play of this theater season. Tickets are available at www.theatreworks.org .
Wild With Happy — Play Review
Posted by Darshana V. Nadkarni, Ph.D. in Play Reviews on June 9, 2013
Deeply personal, hysterically funny, also sad, full of wit and humor, the play “Wild With Happy”, by nationally acclaimed, OBIE award-winning and Tony award-nominated, actor and playwright, Colman Domingo, opened at TheatreWorks, at the Mountain View Center for Performing Arts. Domingo is a gifted actor and has previously played in various well known productions, including “The Scottsboro Boys” – http://bit.ly/KIBadN . In “Wild With Happy”, he plays alongside Sharon Washington, who is superb in her duel role, and was nominated for an Outstanding Lead Actress, Lucille Lortel Award, for her performance as “Adelaide/ Aunt Glo.
Gil (Domingo) in his early forties, has returned from NYC, to his home in Philly, to make arrangements for the funeral of his mother, whom he calls “Adelaide”, to the disapproval of his “Aunt Glo” (both roles played by Washington). He continues to have conversations with his mother, now dead, as he also remembers the earlier times he spent with her, like the time when she decided to join a church and told him, it was to “get us some Jesus”. His mother says, “you are just like me, probably more me than me”. (Isn’t that how it always turns out?) She wants to call Oprah on his behalf, has dreams for him, and believes in magic and fairy tales. She advises, he let go of the past and be open to love, even as he insists, he is a middle aged grown man with $80K in student loans that has yet to be paid back, and magic does not happen in real life.
Aunt Glo, mother’s twin, is a feisty, energetic, zany woman, who gulps down pills to manage her blood pressure, and insists that they have a funeral befitting the tradition, even as she is cleaning out her sister’s closet, for her shoes, dresses, scarves and jackets. Gil prefers a quiet end to mark his mother’s passing away, and questions the need for ceremony. Aunt Glo insists that “tradition has to be maintained”, “because that is what our people do”, “because we are common people”, and that after the limo, hearse, and procession, there should be a reception, so as to not “get talked about afterwards”. She stands her ground, insisting that while her sister was nearing the end of her life, she was the one taking care of her “onliest sister”, as Gil who was pursuing his career in theater, was “missing in acting”.
Gil, meanwhile, discusses the funeral arrangements with the funeral director, Terry (superbly played by Richards Prioleau), who tries to sell the best package, while Gil insists that he is looking for “best on a budget”. To great consternation of his Aunt Glo, Gil settles on cremation, and drives with the urn, with his friend Mo (Duane Boutte), followed in hot pursuit by his Aunt and Terry. Gil and Mo have some conflict along the way, but finally they all end up in Florida, in Disney’s MagicKingdom, in the Cinderella Suite. And magic happens as they make peace. Even as Gil realizes he cannot escape from grief, that “grief becomes part of you that never goes away”, he also understands, “love is a story that never ends”, and he must “shake some fairy dust and keep on believing”. And acknowledging that love is a journey, Aunt Glo also concedes that “love is not a box of cherries, nor a bowl of chocolates,” but is a “trip down the winding lane”. Finally, Gil is not running away from, or running towards, not escaping neither chasing, anything. “I want to just sit”, he says.
Director, Danny Scheie has done a fantastic job. Great kudos to Scenic Designer, Erik Flatmo, Stage Manger, Karen Szpaller, and Assistant Stage Manager, Emily Anderson Wolf. Absolutely loved the beautiful set of Cinderella suite that briefly seems to transport the audience to the magicality symbolized by Disney. Great kudos to Casting Director Leslie Martinson, for excellent casting. And Costume Designer, Brandin Baron did a splendid job in bringing out the personalities of Adelaide and Aunt Glo, as well as other characters.
The dialogues are funny, they make you laugh; they also made me cry. I absolutely loved Sharon Washington who plays both distinct roles and a brief Cinderella role, with aplomb. I highly recommend this brilliant performance and pick it as not-to-miss play of this season, in South Bay Area, CA. For tickets, go to www.theatreworks.org .