Falsettos Revival

Started by Hester Jean, Jul 16, 2017, 07:04 PM

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Hester Jean

This is more about the recorded version now playing in theaters.

I saw it Wednesday and overall loved it.  Loved Christian Borle as Marvin.  He seem to sincere and heartless at the same time.  Andrew Rannells, I was very mixed on.  At times, he was a perfect Whizzer especially when his hair fell across his brow.  He was so hot, I could see Marvin leaving Trina and Jason for him.  But other times, he was so over the top, he annoyed me.  I really have never care from Stephanie Block and find her very annoying on the recording, but I liked her very much. The kid playing Jason was great and the new Mendel was so much like the old.

Two after the show things:

1) Two younger ladies behind me were sobbing so hard at the end, one gasped "I can't imagine seeing this live".  I thought "You were only upset because Whizzer died.  Imagine so many young talented gay men dying and how many we lost because at the time of Falsettoland it was still a horrible epidemic!" (Seriously as I typed this, one of Queen's last songs came on.  I'm now sobbing!)

2) Some very young female turns to another very young female as we walked out:  "I can't believe all the old people into there. What do they know about this!"  Really, this show was before you were even born.   >:(


1) Or imagine losing your brother and your best friend within a two year period. Falsettoland came out a year before my brother died. I never saw it. Only saw March back in the 80s which was very flawed.

2) What do they (we?) know about what? Being gay? getting AIDS?

I wanted to see this yesterday but was too tired. I hope it comes back. If not, I'll see it in October on PBS.


It is still showing tomorrow Amy!  If it comes back I am gonna see it again.  I do think it is weird to applaud a screen, though the sold out crowd was. 

I fell in LOVE with Mendel.  Who doesn't want to be loved and cared for like that.

Andrew Rannells did not bother me at all.  I LOVED him as well.  Hell, I loved everyone, including the kid.

It did seem that they changed the keys for Stephanie a LOT. 

The thing that threw me were all the lyric "changes".  Were they changes, or was it cleaned up for the original recordings?  Anyone know?

And then there were changes from this recording to the movie.  The only one I can think of off the top of my head is "Sit in front of me, I want to see the bald spot" was changed to "Sit in front of me, I want to see the hair line" which didn't really make sense to me.  Who says that???  "Hair line". 

After watching this I just ran home and hugged Todd for forever.  I can't imagine losing him.

A blank page or canvas. My favorite.


It's coming back to Long Beach July 26 so I will see it then. I don't think we get a screening tomorrow.

Hester Jean

Quote from: AmyG on Jul 17, 2017, 10:05 AM1) Or imagine losing your brother and your best friend within a two year period.


Quote2) What do they (we?) know about what? Being gay? getting AIDS?

They were probably late teens, the age you are so much wiser and hipper than old folks.  I would think mainly about being gay.  The fact that  Whizzer died from AIDS is so assumed that these kids might not have realized that was his illness.


Quote from: Hester Jean on Jul 17, 2017, 04:16 PMThey were probably late teens, the age you are so much wiser and hipper than old folks.  I would think mainly about being gay.  The fact that  Whizzer died from AIDS is so assumed that these kids might not have realized that was his illness.

I'm not sure whether I ever realized, before reading your post, @Hester Jean, that Act 2/Falsettoland being set in 1981 means that Whizzer's disease is never mentioned by name -- because at that point it didn't yet have a name.  That should have occurred to me years ago when I first encountered the show, but, whether for the first time or not, it did strike me just now.

Regardless -- "Something Bad Is Happening" makes the point as clearly as it can be made.  If there's a chance that these kids literally didn't realize which specific terminal illness was afflicting Whizzer, the libretto isn't to blame.

What does stand out, thirty years later, is how the show pointedly -- perhaps wishfully -- declines to situate the disease in any vivid social context beyond its one particular chosen/blended family.  True, the libretto (particularly Act 1/March...) is flecked with the ambient homophobia and sexism of the period.  And true, the title song of Falsettoland gestures toward the idea of a "teeny tiny band" of liberal-humanist misfits under siege in the dawning Reagan era.  But even granting that audiences of the time may have needed less explanation as to the lethally precarious conditions under which we lived, Whizzer's premature death is ultimately allowed to seem just about as improbably gentle -- and untouched by social stigma -- as one could possibly hope for under the circumstances.  As compared with, say, the unmitigated hellscape probed by The Normal Heart (like Falsettoland, another Off-B'way communiqué from the anguished height of the epidemic looking back to its very beginnings), the cocoon in which Marvin and his family seem to live morphs from being comically No Exit-ish in Act 1 to becoming an almost implausibly merciful refuge in Act 2.  Apart from the conspicuous, though unremarked, absence of Whizzer's own family (if any of the grownups in this show have living parents or siblings, we're not made aware of it), and one notably mild passage in "What Would I Do?" ("All your life you wanted men, / And when you got it up to have them, / Who knew it could end your life?"), his death plays out almost as if it could be any random disease-of-the-week, with everyone pulling together, learning valuable lessons, emoting poignantly, and becoming (not a minute too soon!) markedly kinder, better people than the screeching neurotics we encountered in 1979.  As I said to my date after the screening last week, Falsettos may never have been a work of genius, but in its time it advanced a not-inconsequential sort of equality in making gay stories as banal as straight ones.  (In retrospect, its highly "relatable" and sympathetic view of ostensibly non-traditional families, along with that of La Cage aux Folles, might be thought of as having laid just a smidgeon of pre-Will & Grace cultural groundwork for the gay-marriage movement to come; and, whether or not one wholly agrees with their eagerly assimilationist bent, I don't know that The Normal Heart could make the same claim, despite being a far more serious and uncompromising work than either of those roughly-contemporaneous musicals).

All of which is to say: Falsettos is a show about which I have plenty of nagging mixed feelings.  I listened to it a lot in the early 90s, and was moved by the original B'way production; but even though it seemed acutely necessary and worth celebrating at the time, I've never been entirely convinced that Finn had the skill to do full justice to his subject.  Which doesn't mean that I don't deeply appreciate the passion and urgency of his attempt, or just as deeply admire his fortitude in bringing it to fruition -- what he did have, in abundance, was a ton of heart and an absolute need to tell this story.  (In this particular instance, "points for effort" actually isn't an altogether backhanded compliment: catharsis was the desperately-needed order of the day, from Kramer's howling fury to Jerry Herman's fabulous escapism to Finn's wry humor and earnest soap-operatics -- and, mixed feelings notwithstanding, I'm as susceptible to a good tearjerker as the next person).

Happily, seeing it on the big screen last week turned out to be a pleasant surprise.  In spite of what sounded like very good casting, the few clips I'd previously seen of this revival (including the Tony excerpt) hadn't struck me as confidence-inspiring, and Isherwood's NYT rave likewise left me unconvinced; I went into the screening frankly bracing myself for disappointment.  So it was something of a relief to find that Falsettos hasn't aged badly at all; and the cast, staging and design all turned out to be exemplary, in some cases even better than the originals.  The show's weaknesses (some of them substantial) remain the same as they've always been, mostly neither solved nor worsened, while its strengths remain undimmed.


I agree with much off what Newbie wrote.  I saw the original production because Mandy Potemkin was playing Marvin.  I enjoyed it sort of but was not enthralled.  When the new production opened I was ambivalent about seeing it until I saw the NYT review.  So we saw it and I thought it was far better than the first.  It was as if the director understood the play and did it well.  The cast I liked. 

There are parts that could/should be replaced but I think the second act is good.  I do think its a bit dated in some of the lyrics and dialogue.  But it was written decades ago.