Festival Playhouse’s production of Fun Home premieres this weekend, and the company could not be more excited. Kalamazoo College will be the first college or university to produce the show, which was written by Lisa Kron ‘83.
“We are all enjoying the run-throughs a lot,” says Johanna Keller ‘18, who plays the role of Joan. “It is a pretty complex show musically and structurally, so we are all excited to see the pieces come together.”
Keller has been involved in theatre productions throughout her time at Kalamazoo College — most recently, she played the role of Camila Rosario in In the Heights. She notes that this show feels different, though — “It’s the smallest cast musical I’ve ever done or seen, and it works really well. Instead of big showstopping dance breaks, my favorite songs have come to be the ones with three people on stage, all telling their stories, intertwined.”
The intimacy of the small cast is exaggerated by the fact that the show will be performed in-the-round, meaning that the audience will wrap around the entire stage. Keller feels that this style of performance “changes the way the actors interact with one another, the way the audience experiences the show, and the feeling the stage has.”
For Stina Taylor ‘18, the production also marks the presentation of her Senior Individualized Project — Taylor designed entire the set for Fun Home. She has been involved in theatre since high school, but reflects that her experience with Fun Home has taught her many new things about the creative process.
“I have learned a lot about the process of designing the scenery for a production — how it goes from an idea to a complete show, and how the whole design team works together to make that happen.” Taylor has also taken on new responsibilities by designing the set, as she says, “It is a big responsibility to have to think about the scenery in such a complete way — how the pieces will be used, what feel they will give off, how everything will work together — which is something that is easy to overlook. I feel like I have a much better idea about how to think about all these things as a designer than I did before.”
Overall, the process has been enriching for Taylor, who is looking forward to pursuing a career in the theatre arts after her time at K. “I have worked on building the sets here since I arrived, and being able to be involved and responsible for this part of the process is something that is very valuable for me to be able to do before I leave..”
So, what makes Fun Home worth seeing? “It is so good, really! I like the music more every day.” Keller said. “It is groundbreaking in terms of representation of lesbians onstage. It is smart.”
The production opens on Thursday (11/2) at 7:30 p.m., continuing on Friday (11/3) and Saturday (11/4) at 7:30 p.m. The final matinee is on Sunday (11/5) at 2:00 p.m.