Keene State’s Theater and Dance (TAD) department has begun rehearsals for its spring musical “Fun Home.”
“Fun Home” is the musical adaptation of Allison Bechdel’s graphic novel “Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic.” The story follows Bechdel through three stages of her life with her father as they both come to terms with their relationship and their sexualities.
As director, theater department chair Kirstin O’Brien said she has already put a lot of time and planning into figuring out the imagery of the show.
“I reread and read over again the graphic novel because I really wanna focus on the character story from the graphic novel and infuse that with the musical, ‘cause that’s where the heart of the show is, in my opinion,” O’Brien said. “Just kind of started doing my history and what I wanted to bring to the attention of the cast and just start imagining a world of the musical and hit the ground running.”
O’Brien has already implemented that imagery within the first few weeks of rehearsals with the cast.
“We started our music bootcamp, we like to call it that, the weekend before we came back [from winter break] which was taught by our music director Deanna Zilske,” O’Brien said. “My first rehearsal with them… table work, talking about the show, history of the show, my overall concept of it, what the design’s gonna look like, kind of just diving in.” O’Brien added, “We have another table work… have our first read-through, sing through… and I start blocking. I’m still fresh to it, but also I forget how short this rehearsal period is.”
“Fun Home” is a small cast made up of Keene State students but also other members of the community.
“The three Bechdel kids are actually not Keene State students, so we have Ivy who is seven years old and she goes to school in Swanzey, Nisa who’s a sixth grader at Keene Middle, and Crow who I believe is in eighth grade,” O’Brien said.
O’Brien added that she is excited to work with new actors and for the opportunities that come along with that process.
“I’m working with actors that I’ve never directed before so it’s gonna be an energetic process and it’s gonna be quick and speedy but it’s also gonna be really in-depth and I’m super pumped,” O’Brien said.
Additionally, O’Brien and the cast had to plan for “Fun Home” to take place in the Redfern Arts Center’s Wright Theatre, instead of the usual Main Theatre.
“The last two shows were on the Main stage so I’m super looking forward to an intimate space… I knew I was directing in the Wright because of the slot I was directing and that was one of the first shows that came into mind, a perfect smaller space, it works,” O’Brien said.
O’Brien mentioned that “Fun Home” will be different from other musicals TAD has put on and hopes the audience is entertained by the storyline.
“This is not a spectacle, it’s literally a story that happens to have music and so I just really hope the audience takes that away from the show,” O’Brien said.
Nicole Dumont can be contacted at