Quote of the Day: There’s so much about what it means to be a man in the show. It’s not only the kid becoming a man – it’s kind of all the men becoming men. It’s a metaphor that resonates. William Finn, creator of the award-winning Broadway hit Falsettos.
William Finn worked on creating this production for many years, starting with the spark of an idea back in 1978. He merged three stories together, wrote and rewrote the music, and eventually worked with the multi-talented James Lapine to give us what is now Falsettos which premiered on Broadway in April 1992. This was my first chance to see this lovely full-length musical about a family that’s ripped apart, searches for identity, and ultimately learns to love each other the best way possible.
While the first act is angsty and full of heartache, it also gives us humor, new love, and shows the strength of the bonds within a family and their traditions and heritage. The songs are all dynamic, and the actors pull out all the stops in their performance. In the second act, the mood is more subdued. The songs become more emotional as the characters learn and grow and come together to navigate the joys and sorrows of life.
Sasha Andreev plays Marvin, a father, a husband, a lover and a man in search of himself. Serena Brook plays his wife Trina. She’s a woman who was raised to live a good life, but no matter how hard she tries to be perfect, she’ll never have the perfect family that she expected. Sam Mandell plays their son Jason. He’s pulled in many directions, emotionally, through his family’s drama, but ultimately shows the adults what it looks like to accept someone, to love and continue to love through all of life’s angst. Max Wojtanowicz plays Whizzer, Marvin’s lover and everyone’s friend. He and Marvin have a passionate relationship that at first burns hot, then fizzles out, only to be rekindled in a deeper and better way. Eric Morris plays Mendel, the family therapist. He falls for Trina and does his best to mend the broken parts of these family members.
In the second act, two more characters are added to the story. Sheena Janson Kelley plays Dr. Charlotte who is discovering a deadly new virus that is claiming the lives of several of her patients. Sara Masterson plays her partner Cordelia. The couple live next door to Marvin and Whizzer. Cordelia offers delicious cuisine, as she is a fantastic chef. And, Dr. Charlotte helps them navigate the terrible disease, AIDS.
This musical is mostly sung with very little dialogue. The songs range from hilarious “Four Jews in a Room Bitching,” to angry defiance “Trina’s Song,” to the terribly sad “I Never Wanted to Love You” and “You Gotta Die Sometime,” to Jason’s sweet “Miracle of Judaism.” In this small cast, we see the enormous talent of each performer, and the outstanding moments of them working so tightly together through harmonies and choreography. They tell this story with tremendous heart and commitment. It was a stunning performance.
The story is set in 1979 and 1981. The set is a gorgeous backdrop of the bold colors of the 1980’s, clean lines, and minimal movable set pieces, a few chairs, a couple doors, and a balance beam/bumper. Scenic design by Mina Kinukawa. They have a song in the show that references the tiny band, which is revealed behind the set in the second act, where Jason Hansen is expertly leading the music!
Meredith McDonough directs this talented cast. Emily Michaels King is the choreographer. Costumes by Rich Hamson. Lighting by Grant E. Merged and Sound design by Katharine Horowitz. You can see Falsettos at Theater Latté Da through Nov. 5, 2023. This one is so good, you might want to go twice!
Go. Create. Inspire!
Journaling Prompt: What are some memorable moments from your childhood?