Atlantis Theaterical Entertainment Group brings out the big guns with their upcoming staging of the critically acclaimed, Tony award winning Broadway musical Fun Home. The story is based on Alison Bechdel’s graphic memoir of the same title, featuring music by Jeanine Tesori and lyrics by Lisa Kron.
“When her father dies unexpectedly, graphic novelist Alison dives deep into her past to tell the story of the volatile, brilliant, one-of-a-kind man whose temperament and secrets defined her family and her life. Moving between past and present, Alison relives her unique childhood playing at the family’s Bechdel Funeral Home, her growing understanding of her own sexuality, and the looming, unanswerable questions about her father’s hidden desires.”
(READ: Full Cast Announced for International Premiere of Fun Home)
Cris Villonco plays Alison Bechdel, the author and central figure of the story. Joining her are Mikkie Bradshaw-Volante who plays teenage Alison, and Katie Bradshaw and Andee Achocoso who will be alternating as small Alison. Eric Kunze has the challenging role of Bruce Bechdel, the complex patriarch of the Bechdel family. Opposite him is the one and only Lea Salonga, who plays Helen Bechdel, the stern and distant mother. This will be Eric and Lea’s reunion performance since starring as Marius and Eponine in Les Miserables on Broadway more than 20 years ago. New Zealand native Laurence Mossman will have his plate full as four different characters – Roy, Pete, Mark and Bobby Jeremy. Rounding out the cast are Yanah Laurel and Ronan Crisologo alternating as Joan, Daniel Drilon and Teddy Velasco alternating as Christian, and Noel Comia and Albert Silos alternating as John.
Atlantis has never shied away from serious and introspective work such as Next to Normal and God of Carnage. Fun Home promises the same emotional gravitas. As Lea explains, “Pieces like this are really interesting because you really get into the intricacies of human behavior. When one person is going through a full blown something… and the aftermath… and the satellites around that person. How does it affect everybody?”
With regards to the many sensitive themes tackled on the show such as family crisis and sexuality, Cris adds, “I think we’ve always been ready (to address serious topics on stage) but we’ve never wanted to face it. I myself, in my own family, we go through things as well. When I went through a horrible break-up, I knew I couldn’t get through it on my own.” She also goes on to say, “Whether or not we think we’re ready, I think we should know (about these topics). We should be aware.”
Relatability and Connections
One thing that the cast has unanimously agreed on is how the show draws out very personal reactions from the audience. Whether it’s a character or a specific plot point, there’s something that everyone can relate to. Even Eric, whose character is tragically twisted, says that he could draw from personal experience as well. “He (Bruce Bechdel) really tries to be a good dad, and I think what the audience will take away from this is you know, the family dynamics. We all aren’t perfect parents and our parents aren’t perfect either as we get older and see them through our eyes. That’s another dynamic of our show.”
Lea has the unique experience of watching the original Broadway rendition, to which she says,
“When the lights came back on and you look at the faces of the people that watched… you will not just get a uniform… it’s not just one singular look. There was an obviously very gay teenager and his mother who were just doing the whole (wiping tears with their sleeves) because they ran out of tissue. Then you will have people who were just stunned, just unable to process it there. You’ll have people who cried just because it’s the music and the experiences and the human element of the show. And there are people who just appreciate the show for being this beautiful show.”
Lea also shares something that director Bobby Garcia told her. “You know, if people are going through their issues, they can just come to the show, you know, it’s a safe place! They can just cry, and if they cry there or whatever they can just say, “Ay it’s the show! It’s just the show. The show is doing that to me!””
Indeed, Fun Home promises to be a unique theater experience for Filipinos. It’s a story that hopes to spark conversation and to inspire the audience to be braver to live their authentic selves.
Fun Home opens on November 10 and will run until the 28th at the RCBC Plaza. Due to content of the show, only audience members aged 13 and up will be allowed to watch. You may buy your tickets here.
For more information on this and other shows, please visit our Theater Calendar.