Musical company

Worcester County Light Opera Company presents ‘Fun Home’ at the BrickBox Theater

Kevin T. Baldwin

After a two-year wait due to the absence of theater resulting from COVID-19, the Worcester County Light Opera Company is finally able to present ‘Fun Home’, a multi-layered musical drama that delivers major emotional impact, bringing more than a few eyes to tears.

Directed by Eric Butler, with musical direction by Lenny McGuire and choreography by Denise Day, the musical is based on the graphic novel and bestselling memoir by Alison Bechdel.

‘Fun Home’ originally won five Tony Awards, including Best Musical and, with this latest direction from Butler and its beautiful cast, follows the character of ‘Alison’ through three important phases of her life. WCLOC normally presents productions at its home base, the Grandview Playhouse, but “Fun Home” is performed at the BrickBox Theater at the Jean McDonough Arts Center on Franklin St.

Throughout the story, which is set in the 1970s, audiences experience Bechdel’s evolution as she shares memories that celebrate different stages of her life:

We witness the emergence of Bechdel’s first feelings of homosexuality during her childhood (through “Small Alison” performed by Grace Olah), the challenges of these “feelings” are fully realized when she manifests during her years of college (as seen in the character of “Medium Alison” played by Jess Guertin) and the complexities of family and the revelation of seeing her parents through Alison’s eyes as an adult (played by Liz Couture) .

Thanks to Butler’s writing and direction, this fine collection of “Alisons” blended together so well that she was immediately believable as the central character.

Olah performs a gorgeous rendition of the musical’s most acclaimed song, “Ring of Keys,” as Small Alison reminisces about an early crush. Guertin, likewise, does an admirable job with the song on Medium Alison describes her first true love in the song “Changing My Major.”

While the musical not only highlights Alison’s emergence and the ultimate embrace of her own sexuality, it simultaneously deals with a very disappointing and “counterproductive” relationship with her troubled father, Bruce (Chuck Grigaitis), who endured a multitude of demons after decades of suppressing her own queer identity.

As tormented as Bruce was, his wife, Helen (Linnea Lyerly), found herself in the position of sharing the cover-up of her husband’s closed gay life which culminates in her own torment which she describes in the moving number “Days and days”. “

Musical director Lenny McGuire assembled a beautiful pit that performed the musical’s complex score to perfection.

There were some vocal missteps during a few group numbers, where some members strayed a bit off the pitch, but otherwise the vocal performances were solid throughout.

Denise Day’s choreography for the musical’s few actual “dance numbers” (as in the fun, upbeat song “Raincoat of Love”) perfectly accentuated the rest of the show’s blocking provided by Butler.

The impressive set wasn’t quite minimal but certainly had an abstract quality to it. It was a beautiful drawing by Ed Savage.

At 100 minutes long and with no intermission, not a second is wasted as we become absolutely engrossed in Bechdel’s harrowing story and deeply moving memories.

So absolutely “find your way to the Fun Home – it’s the Bechdel Funeral Home, baby” – which sits squarely in the BrickBox Theate space at the Jean McDonough Arts Center.

Approximately 100 minutes without intermission.

Kevin T. Baldwin is a member of the American Theater Critics Association

‘Fun Home’

3½ stars

Written by Jeanine Tesori, Lisa Kron and Alison Bechdel. Directed by Eric Butler. Music conducted by Lenny McGuire. Choreography by Denise Day. Performance at 2 p.m. on May 1. Presented by the Worcester County Light Opera Company at the BrickBox Theater at the Jean McDonough Arts Center, 20 Franklin St., Worcester. Tickets $22.50-$27.50.

The cast includes Liz Couture, Grace Olah, Jess Guertin, Lexi Meunier, Chuck Grigaitis, Linnea Lyerly, Henry Cron, Lucas Claydon, Michael Skrzek.