The full cast of Falsettos on stage at Lincoln Theatre. From left: Betsy Wolfe, Christian Borle, Anthony Rosenthal, Andrew Rannells, Tracie Thoms, Brandon Uranowitz and Stephanie J. Block.
The 2016 revival of Falsettos on Broadway is a cut above many other Broadway shows I've seen recently, and I truly loved it. We're very fortunate at the moment that it's been recorded and is showing in cinemas across the US, so I'll link to more details about that at the bottom of the page.
Falsettos is a 1992 musical by James Lapine and William Finn. It was recently revived by Lapine and ran on Broadway in the latter part of 2016, starring Christian Borle, Andrew Rannells, Stephanie J. Block and Brandon Uranowitz.
It is 1979 in New York City, and Marvin (Borle) has recently left his wife Trina (Block), and his son Jason (Anthony Rosenthal) for his male lover Whizzer (Rannells).
Trina, devastated and wondering how her life has turned out this way, pays a visit to Mendel (Uranowitz), a psychiatrist, who helps her deal with her life (and gradually falls in love with her along the way).
Marvin and Whizzer, whose relationship is at first based on their extreme sexual attraction to one-another, grow to love each other.
Marvin reconnects with his son, and his ex-wife and the whole family has to learn how to live with their grief when Whizzer starts dying of AIDS.
Borle (left) and Rannells (right) in rehearsal as Marvin and Whizzer.
This play really resonated with me. It helped explore a watershed time period within our history - the beginning of the AIDS crisis (and America in the 1980s) - and it really affected me as a gay person myself.
The truly groundbreaking thing about Falsettos is that it takes several topics that are quite heavy-hitting, and shapes them around a comical narrative. While the story of the play is heartbreaking, and it deals with love, loss and other sensitive topics aside, there is always a sense of whimsy to the piece that refuses to let up (at least until the final song - when Whizzer has just died.)
I enjoy Falsettos because it lets us explore what family truly means. Marvin comes from this very standard 'a wife, a husband and a child' family background, but during the course of the play, we see this definition of a family widen out.
A family might just be a husband, a wife, and a child; but it could also be a husband, his lover, his ex-wife, his child, his psychiatrist, and the two lesbians from next door.
In times of sadness, love binds us together.
From left: Trina, Whizzer, Mendel, Marvin and Jason.
There's a lot to explore staging-wise that I'm quite fond of. The choreography is excellent, especially within The Thrill of First Love, A Day in Falsettoland and Unlikely Lovers. The Thrill of First Love zings with a sexuality that I've very rarely seen on stage before.
Stephanie J. Block stood out as a highlight to me. Trina is a very complex character, and Block played her with strong sincerity and humour.
That being said, though, the rest of the cast was incredibly talented, professional, and a joy to watch.
I also quite like the minimal staging - with all stage props and set being made out of large shapes (pictured above). This story might be set in 1980s America, but it has enduring relevance, and I'm glad that specific setting did not distract from that.
In all, Falsettos is a beautiful piece of theatre that will stick with you long after you've seen it.
You'll probably cry. I definitely did.
FALSETTOS is currently screening at theatres throughout the USA from now until the end of July 2017. Check out dates and times here.
Show contains sexuality, some swearing, and upsetting scenes.