River & Rail presents ‘Fun Home’ in the Old City

Jay FitzDowntown

River & Rail is offering its most ambitious play to date. The multiple Tony-award-winning musical Fun Home is based on the graphic novel of the same name by Alison Bechdel.

It stars local favorites Laura Beth Wells, Brian Gligor and Katy Wolfe, while featuring Anna Catherine Smith, Emily Helton, Parker Jenkins and Zoe Belle Sullivan.

Fun Home is a poignant story about growing up gay in rural Pennsylvania. With grown-up Alison as our guide, looking back on her childhood is an active journey forward; we experience the humor and depth of feeling in adolescent sexual self-discovery while exhuming the pain of her father’s untold story; a charismatic man with his own artistic interests who spent his life in the closet.

“At the heart of it, Fun Home is about a father and a daughter, about a family with a secret, the ecstasy of being who you are and the agony of hiding the same thing, and about how we all seek, at some point or other, to unlock the secrets of the past in order to more fully understand our present,” says Fun Home director Jessica Holt.

“This soul-stirring story is both incredibly specific and universal; I believe all audiences will have DNA-changing experiences with this show.”

Associate artistic director Emily Ernst adds: “Fun Home has so much to offer musically, there is this haunting lyricism of a memory, as Helen practices a lonely Chopin etude, but there is also the explosive, energetic nod to the Jackson Five in, Come to the Fun Home.

“We are thrilled to have Knoxville’s own Katy Wolfe as Helen, and also as our music director for the production.”

Joshua Peterson, founder and artistic director, says: “This is, by far, the biggest project we have ever mounted at River and Rail. Theatres all over the U.S., including us, are re-learning what it means to produce after the pandemic.

“And as we face new challenges, we’re returning to our why. We started this company to do work like this. We have something to say, and we’re ready to share this powerful story with Knoxville, under the brilliant direction of Jessica Holt.”

Fun Home was created by composer Jeanine Tesori and writer/lyricist Lisa Kron – the first female writing team to win a Tony for Best Musical, Best Book and Best Original Score. Join us at the Old City Performing Arts Center, 111 State Street, through June 18. Tickets can be purchased here: https://tinyurl.com/bdduyvah

River & Rail provided content for this article.


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