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Posted on 07-25-2018

We sat down with 12 year-old Evie Vander Ark who plays Small Alison in Circle Theatre's production of Fun Home, on stage through this Saturday.

Photo Credit | Brian Kelly

Did you know who Alison Bechdel was before you auditioned for Fun Home? 

I did! I read both of her books before I auditioned.

What sort of preparation did you do in order to learn more about the show and Alison’s story?

I read about the 70's a little, and listened to the soundtrack a lot. Having her books around to reference helped too.  I had some good conversations with my parents where we discussed how difficult it would have been to not be able to be yourself or be pushed to be someone you're not. I really had to step out of my bubble to relate to that.

There are adult themes in the show about coming into one's own sexuality, as well as suicide. What's it like to digest and process that information at age 12?

After I auditioned and had spent a lot of timing reading the script and thinking about things, I got really sad. It's really sad thinking about anyone not being able to be themselves. And the way that Bruce projects his issues onto Alison, that's really hard stuff to process. I think being in a production that deals with suicide is important, because it is something people don't openly discuss and it's a real thing that happens.

How did you go about discussing the show with your family and friends?

I usually tell my friends who want to come see the show but don't know a lot about it, that there are some things in it that they might not be prepared for or understand. But the story is important and everyone involved really is putting their heart and soul into the production to tell the story.

How have your parents been supportive of your journey with this show? 

They have been supportive of me being myself, which is important during this because the person I play in the performance has the exact opposite family life. Its comforting to know at the end of the day I can go home to loving parents who support me no matter what.

Photo Credit | Ashlee Lambart

What do you think it will be like to perform this intimate show in the round where people are inches from you?

It's definitely different on a thrust stage because I want everyone in the audience to see my expressions, and hear my voice. It's my first time performing in this type of theatre. Obviously, there's a reason why this play is performed in the round too. You are invited into the house and their lives. 

You performed "Ring of Keys" at Grand Rapids Pride Festival in front of a crowd full of our LGBTQ community and their family and friends. We could hear people's cheers and audible reactions to that song. What was that like, to be an ally on that stage, and tell a part of Alison's story that day? 

To be able to speak to the LGBTQ community thru this song was an honor. It was surprising at how powerful and important it felt while I was doing it.

What is your favorite moment on stage as Small Alison?

Ahhh, so many good moments. But my favorite would have to be the finale when all of the Alisons come together for the last song. Chills.

What do you hope audiences will walk away with after experiencing Fun Home?

I hope people walk away from seeing this show and feel loved, seen, understood. For some people, they may be seeing or hearing things that they experienced in their own lives but never see represented in musicals.  Maybe it will open some people's eyes, or they will have to have an open mind, but they will walk away having seen a very powerful, important story.

Photo Credit | Ashlee Lambart

Don't miss Fun Home on the Circle stage this week for the final four performances, July 25-28 at 7:30pm.

For tickets: circletheatre.org/tickets/funhome

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