by Paul Bowers
On Mon. April 21, the Department of Theatre and Dance at the College of Charleston School of the Arts will host an evening of music from the original cast of the Pulitzer-nominated musical Fun Home, which is based on Alison Bechdel's graphic memoir of the same title.
A press release about the concert makes no mention of the ongoing uproar over Bechdel's book in South Carolina, but it's hard to ignore the subtext. CofC found itself in the state legislature's budget crosshairs recently, with lawmakers voting to cut the college's funding after it distributed copies of the book to first-year students in 2013. Legislators and a conservative Christian group decried the book's depiction of lesbian sexuality, with some comparing the critically acclaimed book to a convenience-store pornography magazine.
So, innocent musical performance or giant middle finger to the Statehouse? You be the judge. But Nandini McCauley, the school's media resources coordinator, says the performance is not meant to send a message to the legislature.
"It's just simply an opportunity that happened to come up," McCauley says. "We couldn't pass it up because it's such a good opportunity for our students to have these experts in theater and writing come to campus."
The musical, like the book, tells the story of Bechdel's coming of age and her relationship with her volatile, secretive father, a closeted gay man. The play is intended for mature audiences only.
Lisa Kron's award-winning stage adaptation of the book, described in a New York Times review as a "beautiful heartbreaker," recently received a nomination for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. The musical ended its off-Broadway run in January, but the concert-style performance in Charleston will be performed by the original cast, including Tony Award winner Michael Cerveris and three-time Tony nominee Judy Kuhn. The concert will feature the musical's repertoire, including songs like "In the Wake," "2.5 Minute Ride," and "101 Humiliating Stories."
Two performances will take place at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. on Mon. April 21 at the Memminger Auditorium (56 Beaufain St.). Tickets are $15 for general admission, $10 for senior citizens and CofC students and employees with I.D. Tickets can be purchased at theatre.cofc.edu or at the door up to 30 minutes prior to showtimes.