By: Isa Goldberg
Watching this revival of Falsettos on Broadway at the Walter Kerr Theatre, one
feels as though its time is now – more so even, than when it premiered in 1992.
Then, William Finn and James Lapine’s musical brought the AIDS epidemic into
Still, the narrative revolves around the break-up of a nuclear family and the emergence of a blended one. That would have been something of an anomaly in the ‘90s, and
certainly in the late ‘70s, early ‘80s when the play is set. Today, with marriage equality, blended families are far more commonplace.
At the center of it all is a coming-of-age story. By Act II, Jason (Anthony
Rosenthal) is preparing for his Bar Mitzvah. His father, Marvin (Christian
Borle) is living with his gay lover, Whizzer (Andrew Rannells). And his
mother, (Stephanie J. Block) has married again…to Marvin’s psychiatrist
As Marvin, Christian Borle is cynical and entitled, but ultimately loveable. His is a role
that requires significantly more depth than his signature Broadway appearances
in musical comedies, the last of which was Something Rotten. Playing his
young lover, Andrew Rannells (The Book of Mormon) is tall, handsome, and
sensitive, with an awesome stage presence. And Stephanie J. Block tells a story
in song like no other. Her “I’m Breaking Down” evokes the power and shrillness
of Ethyl Merman.
As helmed by James Lapine, who wrote the book with William Finn, the narrative feels as though it’s been streamlined, into a concert version of William Finn’s poetic,
melodic songs. Fast-paced, the story rockets into place with Spencer Liff’s
vigorous choreography, which underscores the story.
David Rockwell’s scenic design, on the other hand, lives in an abstract reality.
Various oversized soft grey cubes, mocking both children’s blocks and the
concrete structures we move within, are set against backdrops of the New York
There’s no fluff here. Unto the nature of our spinning world, the production resonates
with the high pitched pace of modern life. There is no time for sentimentality
or loss, even though loss happens.
Lincoln Center Theater at the Walter
Kerr Theatre, 219 W. 48th St., NYC. Tue, Thu, 7 pm; Wed, Fri, Sat, 8; Wed, Sat,
2 pm; Sun, 3 pm. Running time: two hours and 45 mins. including intermission.
$79—$149. (800) 653-8000. www.ticketmaster.com. Oct. 27—Jan. 17.
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Photo: Joan Marcus