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      I saw FUN HOME at Millbrook Playhouse near Loch Haven last week. These thoughts are less about the powerful impact this production had on me than on a strong encouragement to attend theatre wherever you can.

      I could go on and on about the incredible actors in this very contemporary musical. Yeah, a musical...but on the order of NEXT TO NORMAL. There is no cutesy sentimentality about this musical; it's all grit and punch. Based on a graphic novel, it chronicles the coming-of-age of a young woman who grows up in a funeral home (the siblings would play in the coffins...fun!) and discovers little by little that she is a lesbian. Did I mention this is a true story? Add to that the fact that her father is a closeted gay man who must deal with his own fears and secrets and conflicts and you have what one wouldn't normally consider fodder for a musical. No song and dance here; oh, wait, yes there is one over the top happy chorus number with the cast of seven that actually mocks the put on a happy face typically found in such a number. The rest...oh, man...it's powerful.

      Oh, but I wasn't going to go on and on about how talented the cast of seven was...or was I? I will. The cast was incredible. Three powerful actors who played the main character in three stages of her life. A kid, college age, and adult—all connected to each other, the character, and the reality of the story. Two young boys were siblings...just kids living around the area who auditioned—and who just happen to be able to sing and act. Three adults who grabbed the music—often very difficult—and dragged us along with their fears and secrets and conflicts.

      But this is a collection of thoughts encouraging you to take the time and energy and money to get in your car and travel to theatre that is within easy driving distance. That's what this is about...not necessarily about the incredible staging in this thrust stage at Millbrook. (It's in a barn.) This show flowed...no...flow can't be in the same sentence as this play...maybe gushed or plowed or whooshed. I can't abide long scene changes and this production was a finely tuned organism that was timed/lit/staged beautifully. It did justice to the story of this family that wanted so much to connect and be functional, but couldn't.

      Yes this is a collection of thoughts encouraging you to go to theatre in the area. Of course, I hope you will see every HG show that is offered. (BTW, come see the culmination of the Improv Workshop this Saturday at 7:30 at the Warehouse Theatre!. Pay What You Can.) And I hope you will drive down to Millbrook, it's barely over an hour drive from Wellsboro. The season is almost done, but you might be able to catch Miss Mannerly, a comedy.

      And head up to the Hangar in Ithaca. All summer they pack in some great shows. I saw DISGRACED earlier in the summer. Man O Man was that a gripping 90 minutes—non-stop. They throw in a few musicals and comedies and a punchy drama. That's where I first saw PROOF on stage a number of years ago. You might catch THE FOREIGNER—one of HG's favorite productions from past years, if there is such a thing—and one or two more to round out the summer.

      Geva in Rochester is only the other side of two hours, and I've seen productions that are well worth the drive. And this doesn't even touch upon all the high school productions that will be staged this year. Don't come up with the excuse that high school productions are weak or difficult to sit through; the chances are that it will be good and with these productions that isn't the point: GO TO SUPPORT KIDS. AFFIRM KIDS. DEMONSTRATE TO THEM THAT THEY ARE DOING SOMETHING WORTHWHILE!

      Then there are university and college productions all within easy drives: MU, Lycoming, Elmira College, Ithaca College, Cornell to name a few.

      I've driven to Bloomsburg to see some shows. And Peter Davis produces at least two musicals per year at the Arcadia (Finian's Rainbow is coming up in September.)

      Theatre can live if the blood is flowing. We're the blood. Go see a play. Go see more than one.

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