San Diego Repertory Theatre Stages a Moving Musical about Coming Out
After a three-year quest to obtain rights, the Rep will present Fun Home
Photo by Darren Scott
The musical Fun Home took the drama world by storm when it premiered at New York’s Public Theater in 2013, developing a cult following and becoming a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. The subsequent Broadway production, which opened in 2015, won five Tony Awards, including Best Musical and the first Tony ever awarded to a female writing team for Best Original Score.
The story is based on the graphic memoir of the same name by another strong female voice, cartoonist Alison Bechdel. Her long-running comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For inspired what is known as the Bechdel Test, a basic metric used to evaluate female representation in media. Fun Home broke new ground with her candid account of her childhood.
“It was the first mainstream Broadway musical to have a main character who identifies as a lesbian,” says Nicole Cantalupo, assistant director and dramaturg of the upcoming San Diego Rep production. “For many fans, myself included, seeing Fun Home was the first time we could really identify with a character onstage.”
Cantalupo’s affinity for Bechdel’s work goes way back—she’s a founding member of the Bechdel Brigade at Moxie Theatre, a group of local women committed to reaching out to the lesbian, bisexual, and queer community and welcoming them to the theater. The group launched early last year and named themselves after the artist because her message aligned with Moxie’s mission, “to create more diverse and honest images of women for our culture.”
“It is exactly the kind of show SD Rep is proud to be known for,” says director Sam Woodhouse.
The Rep’s mission is much like Moxie’s—to create works that “nourish progressive political and social values and celebrate the multiple voices of our region.” Woodhouse, who is also the Rep’s staff artistic director, notes that beyond Fun Home’s “gorgeous and seductive music,” the play has “the proud specificity of a lesbian protagonist at its center,” as well as the universality of an American family drama everyone can relate to.
Considering the current momentum of the Time’s Up movement and nationwide attention on gender equality, Fun Home embodies much more than a musical. A 2017 poll led by a group of LA-based playwrights showed that only 22 percent of plays produced in American regional theater were written by women, and Cantalupo says Fun Home has “opened up a space for the lesbian and queer community to share their stories in American theater,” adding, “We have a lot of work to do to create equal representation on stage, and now is the time to close that gap.”
San Diego Repertory Theatre
79 Horton Plaza, Downtown