The NRACT Production of FUN HOME Checks All the Boxes

NRACT has a knack for knowing what stories the community needs to both entertain and transform. This organization also understands the power of representation on stage. As Director Timothy Locklear notes: “You never know who you may help or who’s life you can change or ultimately make sure that they realize they are not alone.”

The musical Fun Home, based on the 2008 graphic memoir by the cartoonist, Alison Bechdel, offers an innovative commingling of memory, reflection and self-discovery through the story of the author’s journey with queerness and that of her father being a closeted gay man. With music by Jeanine Tesori, book and lyrics by Lisa Kron, it’s funny, touching, bittersweet, an emotional ride containing all the potholes of growing up. 

The Bechdel Funeral Home, dubbed “fun home” by the children, is located in a small town in Pennsylvania. The historic abode houses both the Bechdel family and their business. Not trusting her memory, Alison Bechdel, now an adult, revisits her diary as a way to interrogate the key moments in her life.  What transpires next is a series of nonlinear vignettes switching between younger versions of herself which effectively allows for adult Alison to examine her relationship with her father. 

Helmed by Locklear, this production zeroes in on adult Alison’s need to make sense of her father’s death. This probe works to center all the performances, as well as convey the vulnerability of each character. 

All three “Alisons” are standouts. As adult Alison, Kristen Stinnett’s expressive performance provides context without being obtrusive. Her vocals encapsulate all the raw feelings of loss, particularly during the show’s climactic number. Eva Jade Halford is marvelous as Small Alison, radiating enthusiasm as well as exhibiting a maturity beyond her age in her vocal numbers. Her performance is both tender and soulful without telegraphing. Katherine Pearce delivers an engaging portrait of Medium Alison’s awkwardness with her emerging sexuality during college. She pours all that joyful giddiness of having sex with a woman the first time into her rendition of “Changing My Major.” As Joan, Medium Alison’s love interest, Kimmy Fiorentino Downing creates a warm and charming chemistry with Pearce.

As Alison’s father, Bruce, Greg Toft deftly navigates the polarizing aspects of his character’s calculating charm and explosive anger, with a soft spot for his children sandwiched between. Toft delivers an empathetic portrayal of a man with complicated repressed feelings. As his long-suffering wife, Helen, Mary Kathryn Walston seems pushed to the background until she soars in a heart-felt rendition of “Days and Days.” 

Alison’s siblings, Christian (Brody Schpero) and Joanna (Cassady Watts) are delightful in their roles. Watts shines as she becomes the lead singer in the children’s rendering of a musical commercial for the family business. Schpero displays some burgeoning comic timing.

Thomas Mauney’s set and lighting design choices perfectly compliment the play’s story. With the Bechdel home dominating the stage, the opening in the middle serves as the space to highlight changes in time and place – the home framing outside activities. Lighting accented the changing tone and emotional states of the characters. 

When Fun Home debuted off-Broadway in 2013, it was noted as being “the first mainstream musical about a young lesbian.” It went on to collect five Tonys, including the best musical award, in 2015. Representation and fresh story-telling matter. This work of heart has been served well by NRACT.

The North Raleigh Arts and Creative Theatre production of Fun Home runs through August 27. For more information visit

For a listing of Triangle theater events, visit our Calendar Page.

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