Alison Bechdel drew cartoons. Almost always. But she couldn’t find an art school that would accept her, so she moved to Manhattan and began working in publishing. In 1983, she drew a single illustration: “Marianne, dissatisfied with the morning brew. Dykes to Watch Out For, Plate no. 27.” A friend spotted it and encouraged her to send it to a magazine. She did. It became popular. She drew more and eventually Dykes to Watch Out For became the cartoon serial that brought her fame. (With that title, how could it not?)
But in her early 40s, Bechdel found herself stuck artistically and personally. In an effort to face long-buried feelings about her father’s death, she began the graphic memoir that became Fun Home. The book was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and Time Magazine named it one of the “10 best books of the year.”
The story is Bechdel’s excavation of her own journey, her odd family, and the collision of her story with her father’s. Enter Jeanine Tesori and Lisa Kron. Tesori is one of the most gifted composers in American theater, who had particular success with Violet and Caroline, or Change. Kron helped form a satirical theater troupe in 1989, The Five Lesbian Brothers, and had gone on to write successful memoirs of her own: Well and 2.5 Minute Ride.
But adapting this story for the stage? No one knew if a musical it would make. Bechdel confessed that musical theater was a completely alien art form to her, so handing it over to Kron and Tesori felt like a relief of sorts. And the magic they have created together is truly unique: at times haunting, disturbing, wacky, and a bit miraculous.
Thank you for walking along the road with us.