Sunday, July 31, 2016
The cast of the New York production of Home Fun presented a stripped-down concert performance of the Tony Award-winning musical as a benefit at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts. One hundred percent of the net proceeds of the performance will go to the LGBT nonprofit Equality Florida and the victims of the Pulse shooting. Half of the money raised will be distributed directly to victims and their families, and half will support Equality Florida's work to end discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
"I think that it's one thing to raise money, which is important," said "Fun Home" actress Judy Kuhn. "But I think it's also important to show up and say, 'We're here and we're here supporting you." During the introduction, the words, "We are so sorry." brought back the tears. As the cast walked onto the stage, they got a roaring standing oration.
Based on the graphic novel by Alison Bechel, the show is about a lesbian cartoonist named Alison, who looks back at her childhood and her sexual awakening in college. Throughout the play, her adult self holds a sketchpad as she sketched the scenes of her past. It seemed appropriate that one person in the audience should be sketching as well. Three actresses perform as Alison. The youngest dreamed of taking flight, and yearned for her father's attention. The Tom boyish middle Alison intellectualized her sexual confusion until the right girl, Joan, kissed her. The eldest Alison looked back on her past actions in ever scene often embarrassed by her own diary entries.
The woman seated next to Betsy, was wearing a tuxedo shirt and suspenders. She said, this was the first time she had seen a character on stage who reminded her of herself. The play addresses universal underlying themes of wanting a parent's acceptance and love only to get their narrow minded ideas of what they consider best. As Alison was discovering she loved women, her father was seeking out young men to have affairs with. As she began to soar, he began to crash. The harsh reality was gut wrenching.
My favorite scene featured young Alison, Gabby Pizzolo, who sees a woman unlike any she had scene before. The woman was masculine and beautiful, no handsome. For the first time she saw a woman who seemed strong and she saw herself. Her father wanted her to wear a dress and keep her hair back with a beret, but she just saw who she could be. I loved her, for finally loving herself. In a talk back after the show the young boy actor, Zell Steele Morrow, summed it up nicely. You can be who you want to be, and love who you want to love. The two women seated in front of me held each other close. In the wake of tragedy, love still finds a way in Orlando.
The GoFundMe to help Pulse victims families has reached over 7.3 million dollars breaking all records for the internet startup. Survivors from other mass shootings have come to Orlando to show their support. Some were in the audience. There is no life outside of the need to connect. Theater like this brings a community together and this shared story, about us all, can help us come together and face what we all must overcome, to rise above hate.