Falsettos: Welcome to Falsettoland circa 1992
William Finn (music & lyrics) and James Lapine (book) created such a non-traditional sound and voice when they wrote this show. This team is also responsible for the very similarly unique sound of The New Brain (which I loved when it was performed at the New York City Center Encores! Off-Center: https://frontmezzjunkies.com/2015/06/28/a-weird-and-wonderful-new-brain/ ). It’s a powerful voice that sounds like no other. The music in Falsettos is gorgeous and fun, complex and surprising, and with a show aimed at exploring sexuality, alternative families, and AIDS, it doesn’t, even to this day, seem to handle these in traditional or melodramatic ways. It has given us a more realistic, heartfelt, and sobering view, while delicately managing to avoid becoming a Lifetime movie of the week.
Christian Borle returns to the Broadway stage after a successful run as the total rock star Shakespeare in the very funny Something Rotten. This time he’s portraying a far more complex part, and although his performance is a bit rough around the edges, he mostly succeeds. That beautiful and powerful voice of his brings us into his world where we, eventually, give into his charm. As Marvin, he has the delicate task of making us root for him, as he leaves his son and wife to be with another, the not-so-sympathetic Whizzer (played with an arrogant charm by Andrew Rannells). It takes some time to get on board with this new couple as they passionately do battle for control, fighting and loving with a fierceness of lions. This hesitation is especially real as we are totally won over by the delectable Stephanie J. Block (The Mystery of Edwin Drood) and her show stopping portrayal of
the suffering ex-wife, Trina. Her knock out number, ‘I’m Breaking Down‘ and her second act ballad, ‘Holding to the Ground‘ win us over completely. We are totally on her side, and thrilled to witness her falling for the psychiatrist, Mendel. He is hilariously played by Brandon Uranowitz (An American in Paris), with such emotional depth and comic zest that we forgive his character of all the moral and ethical issues brought forth, and we happily embrace their romance.
Maybe one of the most charming roles, besides the delicious lesbians next door (the incredibly talented team of Tracie Thoms and Betsy Wolfe) is the young son, Jason, played with endearing delicacy by Anthony Rosenthal. His awkwardness and strength register and
compel us, especially in the fantastically fun number, ‘The Baseball Game‘ to join in and cheer him on.