The Tony-winning Best Musical of 2015, Fun Home, is heading to the “Big Screen” with a big name attached to the project. Star of stage and screen, Jake Gyllenhaal, will both produce and star in Fun Home, playing the complicated Bruce Bechdel, father of the show’s narrator and protagonist Alison Bechdel. Gyllenhaal’s production company, Nine Stories Productions, will produce, with Sam Gold, the director of the original Broadway production, at the helm.
Alison Bechdel’s 2006 graphic novel Fun Home was adapted for the musical stage by playwright Lisa Kron (book and lyrics) and Jeanine Tesori (music) for an Off-Broadway berth in 2013, and then moving to Broadway in 2015 where it picked up Tony Awards for Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical, Best Original Score, Best Actor in a Musical (Michael Cerveris), and Best Direction of a Musical (Sam Gold). The production played at Broadway’s Circle in the Square Theatre for 582 performances with a cast that also included Judy Kuhn, Beth Malone, Sydney Lucas, and Emily Skeggs.
The musical takes us into the world of the Bechdel Family, particularly that of Alison Bechdel, a middle-aged cartoonist and writer who is takes us back to her childhood home on Maple Avenue in small-town Pennsylvania. Bruce Bechdel runs a funeral home there. Alison struggles to connect with her father, a temperamental man and a closeted homosexual who lives a secret life outside of his wife and children. As she comes to terms with her own homosexuality, Alison hopes that perhaps she and her father can find common ground and finally have a positive relationship. Fun Home is her journey to better understand both herself and this parent she never really knew.
Jake Gyllenhaal, predominantly known for his myriad film roles, is no stranger to the musical stage. He first showed-off his musical capabilities in a concert version of Little Shop of Horrors in 2015 at New York’s City Center. On Broadway, he starred as the title character in the Stephen Sondheim/James Lapine musical Sunday in the Park with George. This last fall, he starred in the play Sea Wall/A Life. He is also listed as a producer on both the recent Slave Play and the upcoming Caroline, or Change.
The film adaptation of Fun Home has set no dates or casting yet.
Mark Robinson is the author of the two-volume encyclopedia The World of Musicals, The Disney Song Encyclopedia, and The Encyclopedia of Television Theme Songs. His latest book, Sitcommentary: The Television Comedies That Changed America, released on October 15. He maintains a theater and entertainment blog at markrobinsonwrites.com.
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