To convey what it was like having her graphic memoir Fun Home turned into a musical, Alison Bechdel drew a cartoon, which was published in the Vermont alt-weekly Seven Days. Now, as the Pultizer Prize-finalist musical heads to Broadway, that cartoon has been animated into a video, narrated by Beth Malone, who plays the adult Alison in the musical.
In the cartoon, Bechdel describes how she wasn’t at the theater for the play’s opening night Off-Broadway at the Public, and instead was simply refreshed her computer, waiting for the New York Times review. Fun Home is about Bechdel’s experience growing up, and specifically focuses on her father, a closeted gay man who committed suicide. While Bechdel explains in the cartoon how she initally couldn’t picture anyone breaking into song in the context of her memoir, she learned that “musicals are always about life-and-death situations,” and was astonished when she saw it in a preview performance.
The video features samples of songs from the show, including “Ring of Keys,” sung by Alison at her smallest state in the musical. “And here we were, singing,” she says. “One of my earliest childhood memories had become a lesbian anthem; my excruciatingly awkward first sexual experience was turned into an exuberant showstopper.”
The cartoon concludes with Bechdel finding the review from the Times. “It was a startling, unqualified rave,” she said. “My parents—who had met, as it happened, in a play—would get to go on living in one.”
Fun Home begins previews on Broadway on March 27 and opens April 19.