CofC opens doors for 'Fun Home' Monday night

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- The off-Broadway musical version of the book that saw the College Reads! program defunded by the state government opened at Memminger Auditorium Monday night.{} The College's theater department hosted the musical "Fun Home," based on the Alison Bechdel book of the same name.{} {} The cast featured Tony Award winners and nominees.{} Department chair Todd McNerny called the showings "an incredible academic opportunity for our students and the chance for our community to see Off-Broadway stars sing inventive and complex works from a popular musical fresh from the New York stage." The story chronicles Bechdel's complex relationship with her father, a high school English teacher and director of the town funeral home. In college, Alison comes out as a lesbian and learns her father is gay. By retelling her story, she is able to come to terms with herself, her sexual identity, and her relationship with her father."It's a memoir exploring this painful moment of my childhood, my young adulthood," Bechdel said. The book was adapted for stage by Lisa Kron and Jeanine Tesori, who will also attend the showing. "With Kron, Tesori, Bechdel and musical director Chris Fenwick in attendance, our students will have the added bonus of interaction with major theatrical and writing professionals," McNerny said. Lowcountry residents like Ray and Patty Mooney of Summerville attended the performance to support the College. "[School administrators] have the right to select reading materials for adults. The legislature has no business being involved in what can and can't be offered," Patty Mooney said. "To out of spite to take away additional funds because some politician didn't get his way is just absolutely repulsive," Ray Mooney said. Students also held a rally against what they called a growing trend of political influence at the College. "We know our voices matter and we don't want top down fashion of legislature and board of trustees making decisions about what's best for us without our input," student activist Briosha Sanders said. Bechdel visited the campus to discuss the novel last October.{} Since the book was announced as the College Reads! selection for incoming freshmen, it has been under attack from several members of the Legislature. Some even called the book pornographic. "I think that's offensive and ridiculous. It's a book about my life. what are they calling my life pornographic? That was the thing, they found it pornographic," Bechdel said. Republican Rep. Garry Smith proposed the cut in funding for the reading programs at CofC and USC Upstate because of the selections.{} "This is about cutting monies because of the arrogance of the university in that they would force this and other students who did not want to read this book," he said at the time.{} When student government officials at the College questioned legislators about their decision to cut funding, Rep. Stephen Goldfinch, another Republican, lashed out.{} "Out of your mouth you demand that we fund your school and many of your educations, yet, out of another side of your mouth, you demand we stay out of your school and your education. I have a simple solution for you: Ask your school to go private. At that point, you can require obscene pornographic mandatory reading without any intervention from the people who fund your school now," he said in a response to CofC's SGA vice president.{} He later walked the comment back, saying he received SGA's email at a bad time. "The Republicans had been called everything from sexists, to racists, to bigots and homophobes," said Goldfinch. "I was irritated and I lashed out at him and I probably shouldn't have done that. So, I would like to apologize for my tone."