Cast of Fun Home Visited South Carolina to Counter Homophobic Controversy
By Jerry Portwood
Photos by Joan Marcus
Charleston seems to be on everyone's mind these days. When folks aren't gushing about the restaurant scene, they are thoroughly incensed about Bravo's naughty reality show Southern Charm and what harm its doing the city's genteel character, they seem to be upset that lesbian "propaganda" is trickling into their colleges. After Allison Bechdel's 2006 graphic novel, Fun Home, was assigned to incoming freshman at the College of Charleston, they were threatened with state budget cuts that would eviscerate the annual reading program because they were promoting a lesbian's work about her sexual experience and her closeted gay father. In response, Bechdel and the nine-member cast of the musical adaptation—including Tony-winner Michael Cerveris and Tony nominee Judy Kuhn, as well as three child actors—joined the show’s creators, Lisa Kron and Jeanine Tesori, at an off-campus theater on Monday in Charleston to perform songs from the musical adaptation of Fun Home, (one of my Top 10 shows of last year).
“It was an amazing logistical feat,” she told Slate after her return. “I don’t know how, but they got all the actors, [the show’s creators] Lisa [Kron] and Jeanine [Tesori], the musical director, everyone was there—and in a couple of hours they put together this performance...People were really happy that we were there—some had come from other schools three to five hours away.”
According to Bechdel, the song “Changing My Major to Joan”—in which college-age Alison sings about her first sexual experience with a woman, was well-received. “The audience so wanted to see that, especially the students who are having this very difficult time with their college... I think I’ve gotten quite complacent in my old age, seeing how much progress has been made in terms of gay stuff. It was a wake-up call. There’s still a lot of work to be done.”
According to the New York Times, a production of Fun Home—which was also a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize for drama, may transfer Broadway for the 2014-15 theater season, "though no official plans have been announced." Bechdel will be honored at this year's Lambda Literary Awards (along with Kate Bornstein) as well.