If I was only given one word to describe the absolute mammoth of an emotional roller coaster that is “Falsettos”? That word would be genius. I immediately realized that that this show is a classic that no one prepared me for. From the opening sequence, Falsettos takes off running uphill, climbing higher and higher up the rising action until it reaches the climax and you’re slapped in the face with EMOTIONS. Falsettos is a nonstop, exhilarating ride—everything is perfect in Falsettoland.
William Finn and James Lapine’s Falsettos tells a perfect story of imperfect love. The show’s cast is a “tight-knit family” consisting of: Marvin, a clever gay man eager to keep his family together; Marvin’s ex-wife Trina, who blames herself for their marriage not working; their son, Jason, who is caught in the middle; the family psychiatrist, Mendel; Marvin’s boyfriend, Whizzer; and the wise lesbians next door, Dr. Charlotte and Cordelia. One of Falsettos’ main themes is the idea that love tells millions of stories, and in just two acts, the audience will experience many of those stories and reflect on their own due to the show’s careful and deliberate writing.
I was quickly invested in each character as they appeared onstage, in no small part due to the talent of the company who brought each character’s passion and vulnerability to life. Nick Blaemire’s portrayal of Mendel is a high energy performance that I can’t help but admire. I believe Mendel is the true conductor of the show, moving the story exactly where it needs to be and setting the pace from his very first note. Especially lovable are Blaemire’s duets with the young Thatcher Jacobs (Jason). The pair complement each other so well that I only wish we, as the audience, could have more time in the show to explore Jason and Mendel’s relationship. Eden Espinosa (Trina) steals the audience’s hearts with her mesmerizing performance of "I'm Breaking Down,” which exemplifies the concept that these characters’ lives are so depressing, that it’s almost funny; you can’t help but laugh, but perhaps it’s that uncomfortable laugh that you muster when you don’t know what else to do. Falsettos’ heart lies in the relationship between Marvin and Whizzer, thanks to the perfect chemistry between actors Max von Essen (Marvin) and Nick Adams (Whizzer). This show’s casting is perfect, and the actors display great levels of commitment to delivering an unforgettable story throughout the entire production.
The aspect of Falsettos’ staging that I most appreciated was the use of sparse, colorless set pieces. The show’s barebones staging and prop usage forces the audience to suspend disbelief and immerse themselves in the show as the cast uses bare gray blocks to seamlessly build living rooms, therapist’s offices, and even bleachers. Such a simple set also brings out the expressiveness of the costuming and the actors themselves. It reminded me of the tiny Spring one act plays from high school, where limited tools forced us to express ourselves with more creativity and passion. Another cool aspect of this staging choice is that we see the ensemble not as a series of actors playing parts, but as just that; an ensemble, working together to craft a performance. I find myself wishing more Broadway musicals would use sparse staging techniques instead of the typical flash and awe.
Many shows are a series of moments. Some shows are so special because the moments in them have been experienced by everyone in some capacity at some point in their lives; those moments not just for the performers who are making it happen onstage, but for every single person in the theatre who has made those moments happen offstage as well. And experiencing those moments in theatre is the key difference between a play that an audience just watches, and a play that an audience experiences. Though I sometimes felt that the story was limited by the pacing of the 2-and-a-half-hour show—I would have liked to explore some of the relationships further—Falsettos is a goldmine of moments that you will experience, moments that will truly resonate with you. This story is a gift, and one you will carry with you for a lifetime.
Falsettos continues its run through AT&T Performing Arts Center February 14th through February 17th. Looking for a place to take your valentine? Falsettos has you covered. Ticket prices range from $55 to $99, and are subject to availability. Student rush tickets are available with valid student IDs at just $25 each (available 90 minutes before the show).
Berkan's show highlights
.The entire company of Falsettos
.Musical Number: "Four Jews in a Room Bitching"
.Musical Number: "Love is Blind"
.Musical Number: "Marvin at the Psychiatrist"
.Musical Number: "I'm Breaking Down"
.Musical Number: "Jasons Therapy"
.Musical Number: "Trina's Song"
.Musical Number: "I never wanted to love you"
.Musical Number: "Miracle of Judaism"
.Musical Number: "Everyone Hates His Parents"
.Musical Number: "You Gotta Die Sometime"
.Musical Number: "What would I do"
Remaining Performance Schedule
7:30pm ( ASK THE ARTISTS )
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