As an initiative to reintroduce musical theater to the general public, PBS has been broadcasting Broadway musicals on Friday nights. Most recently, Falsettos joined She Loves Me in its TV revival.
Set in 1979, Falsettos follows the story of a strange and convoluted family near the head of the AIDS crisis. While comedic and nonstop, Falsettos hits home in several places: it's a "coming of age" story and a "finding new love" story and a "maybe we can get through this" story and a "I have nothing left" story.
With Christian Borle(Peter Pan Live!) as Marvin, Andrew Rannells(Book of Mormon) as Whizzer, Anthony Rosenthal(Newsies) as Jason, Stephanie J Block(Madam Secretary) as Trina, Tracie Thoms(Rent) as Dr. Charlotte, Brandon Uranowitz(An American in Paris) as Mendel, and Betsy Wolfe(Waitress) as Cordelia, Falsettos was sure to be a show stopper.
At the beginning of Act I, most audience members are rightfully confused. The set design is deceptively simple: a single gray block on the stage. However, in the opening number, it's slowly deconstructed to reveal a set! A few chairs, a table, and a couch. As the setting in the play changes, the actors move the set around to create the correct room and feeling. The lighting design and songs help add to the cheerful atmosphere, even as characters sing about hating their family and breaking down. "March of the Falsettos" is a perfect example of hilarity combined with refined performance that captures the mood of Act I Falsettos.
As Act II unfolds, we're introduced to Cordelia and Dr. Charlotte, the lesbians from next door. Any musical theater fan knows that Act II is when things start going downhill, and Falsettos is no exception. The set becomes more real, relying less on the gray cube from the beginning and pulling in real life dressings: a hospital bed, hospital chairs, and table. The songs become more real, and less fantastical. The ending features a crucial chess piece that destroys every audience member's' heart.
All in all, the technical and visual aspects of this show coupled with the incredible performance of the cast created a masterpiece of emotions that will hit home to any audience. So go, watch it now while you can!
And make sure to tune in Friday, November 3rd for Noël Coward's Present Laughter! Check local listings.