Big Alison (Allison Mickelson) watches Small Alison (Fiona McFarlin) join in a family cleaning frenzy ahead of an important visit during rehearsal for "Fun Home." (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)

Let the ‘Fun Home’ begin

Long-awaited musical is set to open soon.

“Fun Home” is a lot of things — a musical, an adaptation of an award-winning book, a depiction of familial tensions and queerness tinged by the inescapable fact of death. But it’s also a comedy.

“I love dark humor, and I would love everyone to know that the play is very, very funny,” said Hannah Wolf, who is directing Perseverance Theatre’s production of “Fun Home,” in a recent interview.

“Fun Home,” which is based on Alison Bechdel’s award-winning graphic novel memoir “Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic,” depicts formative moments from Bechdel’s life, including moments from Bechdel’s childhood with her demanding father, Bechdel coming to terms with her homosexuality in college, and realizations about her father’s sexuality and death. Its title comes from an inside joke name for the family’s business, a funeral home.

The story is told through vignettes focused on three versions of Bechdel — child-era Small Alison (Fiona McFarlin), college-era Medium Alison (Brita Fagerstrom) and middle-aged Big Alison (Allison Mickelson) — with the oldest Alison typically observing the exploits of her family and younger selves.

Mickelson, who has played Big Alison in three previous productions of “Fun Home” and is making her Perseverance Theatre debut, said in an interview there is value in frank depictions of subjects that don’t show up in many plays.

Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire
Big Alison (Allison Mickelson) clutches a sketchbook while reflecting on her younger years during rehearsal for Perseverance Theatre’s production of “Fun Home”

Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire Big Alison (Allison Mickelson) clutches a sketchbook while reflecting on her younger years during rehearsal for Perseverance Theatre’s production of “Fun Home”

“What a gift to normalize a gay protagonist, to talk about suicide to talk about mental health,” Mickelson said.

Wolf said she hopes prospective audience members aren’t scared away by some of the show’s more morbid motifs since “Fun Home” ultimately tells a story about moving forward from trauma.

[“Fun Home” director shares uncommon circumstances behind an “unlikely musical”]

“While the show deals with very heavy material, the show also ends with hope,” Wolf said.

Also, while the show is an adaptation of a singular, real-life story, both Mickelson and Wolf said it mines a unique life for universal feelings.

The show goes on

Both Wolf and Mickelson also said there is much joy in returning to live theater after the pandemic necessitated plays shift to virtual presentations. They said that feeling is intensified in the case of this particular production of “Fun Home.”

Originally, the play was set to open in the spring of 2020. However, that was dashed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Two years later, most of the cast for the paused past production has returned. Wolf noted that’s relatively rare for a delayed project.

“I have to catch myself quite often,” said Mickelson, who spent extended time in Juneau after the planned shows were postponed to work for Trail Mix Inc. “It’s emotional, it’s so exciting, but it’s also surreal.”

Wolf, who typically works as a new play director, said working with a more-known piece and the two-year delay gave the process an ensemble-built feel with actors who have an especially deep understanding of their characters.

Ben Hohenstatt / Capital City Weekly
Bruce Bechdel (Enrique Bravo) makes a tense face while clutching an antique during rehearsal for “Fun Home” while observed by Big Alison (Allison Mickelson).

Ben Hohenstatt / Capital City Weekly Bruce Bechdel (Enrique Bravo) makes a tense face while clutching an antique during rehearsal for “Fun Home” while observed by Big Alison (Allison Mickelson).

In addition to Mickelson, the cast — who Wolf praised effusively — includes many actors who may be familiar to Perseverance Theatre audiences, including Fagerstrom, Margeaux Ljungberg, Enrique Bravo, Cate Ross and Chris Talley. It also includes a few actors making their debut for a mainstage production for Perseverance, such as Mickelson and young actors McFarlin, Kyra Wood and Axel Boily.

Music will be provided by Rob Cohen, Paul Cotton, Franz Felkl, Liz Hanley, Dale McFarlin and Ty Wolverton.

“I can’t wait for people to see the force of talent that is on stage,” Wolf said.

Wolf won’t have to wait long. “Fun Home” opens Friday and runs through May 8.

• Contact Ben Hohenstatt at (907)308-4895 or bhohenstatt@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @BenHohenstatt

Know & Go

What: “Fun Home”

When: 7:30 p.m. April 22, April 23, April 27, April 28, April 29, May 5, May 6 and May 7. 4 p.m. April 24, May 1 and May 8.

Where: Perseverance Theatre, 914 3rd St., Douglas

Admission: Tickets cost $40. The performance scheduled for Wednesday, April 27, is a pay-as-you-wish show. Attendees must provide proof of vaccination and wear masks indoors, according to Perseverance Theatre’s website. Tickets can be purchased online through https://www.ptalaska.org/ticketing/.

More in News

Aurora Forecast

Forecasts from the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Geophysical Institute for the week of Feb. 5

Folks at the Alaska State Capitol openly admit to plenty of fish tales, but to a large degree in ways intended to benefit residents and sometimes even the fish. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
The bizarre bills other state legislatures are considering

Alaska’s Legislature isn’t mulling the headline-grabbers some statehouses have in the works.

This photo shows snow-covered hills in the Porcupine River Tundra in the Yukon Territories, Canada. In July 1997, a hunter contacted troopers in Fairbanks, Alaska, and reported finding a human skull along the Porcupine River, around 8 miles (13 kilometers) from the Canadian border. Investigators used genetic genealogy to help identify the remains as those of Gary Frank Sotherden, according to a statement Thursday, Feb. 2, 2023, from Alaska State Troopers. (AP Photo / Rick Bowmer)
Skull found in ‘97 in Interior belongs to New York man

A skull found in a remote part of Alaska’s Interior in 1997… Continue reading

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Police calls for Saturday, Feb. 4, 2023

This report contains information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Officer William Hicks stands with JPD Chief Ed Mercer and Deputy Chief David Campbell during a swearing in ceremony for Hicks on Thursday at the JPD station in Lemon Creek. (Jonson Kuhn / Juneau Empire)
New officer joins JPD’s ranks

The Juneau Police Department welcomed a new officer to its ranks Thursday… Continue reading

These photos show Nova, a 3-year-old golden retriever, and the illegally placed body hold trap, commonly referred to as a Conibear trap, that caught her while walking near Outer Point Trail last week. (Courtesy / Jessica Davis)
Dog narrowly survives rare illegally placed trap in Juneau

State wildlife officials outlined what to do if found in similar situation

Gavel (Courtesy photo)
Public defender agency to refuse some cases, citing staffing

ANCHORAGE — A state agency that represents Alaskans who cannot afford their… Continue reading

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Police: Gift card scam connected to hoax Fred Meyer threats

This article has been moved in front of the Empire’s paywall. A… Continue reading

This is a concept design drawing that was included in the request for proposal sent out by the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities seeking outside engineering and design services to determine whether it’s feasible to build a new ferry terminal facility in Juneau at Cascade Point. (Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities)
DOT takes steps toward potential Cascade Point ferry terminal facility

It would accommodate the Tazlina and or Hubbard, shorten trips to Haines and Skagway

Most Read