In a short comic for Vulture titled Fun Home Coda, cartoonist Alison Bechdel reflected on the process of watching her life turned into a dramatic stage performance after her best-selling graphic memoir, Fun Home, was taken on by writer Lisa Kron and composer Jeanine Tesori for adaptation into a broadway musical. On the experience of hearing the score for the first time, she writes, “Here was my distant, repressed family brought close…It seemed to get to the emotional heart of things more directly than my book had.”
Based on this year’s Tony Awards it is obvious that the musical theater community and the public have responded with the same positivity to Fun Home. The show emerged as the highest-scoring musical of the year, winning five Tonys, including Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical, Best Original Score, Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role and Best Direction of a Musical.
Not only is the number of awards received impressive, but Fun Home also made history not once, but twice at the Tonys: It’s the first show written entirely by women to take the Best Musical award, and Kron and Tesori are the first all-woman team to win Best Original Score.
Fun Home is also the first musical to feature a butch lesbian as the central character. Shows like Billy Elliot gave gay men a presence on the stage, but, as Kron said in an interview with June Thomas from Slate, “Musicals are traditionally the straightest of the straight, even though they were largely made by gay men. They’re about a leading man and an ingénue.”
With Fun Home, a space has emerged for gender nonconforming and queer women’s representation on Broadway. As a last remark in Fun Home Coda, Bechdel imagines her parents, both of whom are no longer living, in the audience and remarks cathartically, “My impossible wish is that the play can heal them, too.”