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Lincoln Center Theater Presents a Revival of "Falsettos" at the Walter Kerr Theatre
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Lincoln Center Theater Presents a Revival of "Falsettos" at the Walter Kerr Theatre

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André Bishop, Producing Artistic Director
Adam Siegel, Managing Director
Hattie K. Jutagir, Exec. Director,
Development & Planning

in association with Jujamcyn Theaters

(Falsettos Web Page)

Music and Lyrics by William Finn

Directed by James Lapine
Choreography: Spencer Liff
Music Direction: Vadim Feichtner

At the
Walter Kerr Theatre
219 West 48th Street

Stephanie J. Block, Christian Borle, Andrew Rannells
Anthony Rosenthal, Tracie Thoms, Brandon Uranowitz, Betsy Wolfe

Sets: David Rockwell
Costumes: Jennifer Caprio
Lighting: Jeff Croiter
Sound: Dan Moses Schreier
Orchestrations: Michael Starobin
Production Stage Manager: Scott Taylor Rollison
Casting: Tara Rubin, CSA, Eric Woodall, CSA

General Manager: Jessica Niebanck
General Press Agent: Philip Rinaldi
Production Manager: Paul Smithyman
Director of Marketing: Linda Mason Ross

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
November 19, 2016 Matinee

In the midst of a somewhat disappointing theater season, along comes Lincoln Center Theater’s production of William Finn’s Falsettos, running at the Walter Kerr for well over two hours, and I hope to experience it again. James Lapine, who co-wrote the book with Mr. Finn, has directed this show for over-the-top hilarity and deeply gut-wrenching sadness. Every emotion and introspective thought the show could target, to bond with its audience, is masterfully tapped and expanded. Falsettos, glowingly revived after twenty-five years, is a show about belongingness, acceptance, and family. The narrative is sung-through, like an opera, which must be taxing on a double-show, matinee day, such as today. But Christian Borle (Angels in America, Something Rotten!), Andrew Rannells (The Book of Mormon), Brandon Uranowitz (An American in Paris, Baby It’s You), Tracie Thoms (Stick Fly, Lost Lake), Stephanie J. Block (9 to 5), and Betsy Wolfe (Bullets Over Broadway) are among the crème d la crème of energized entertainers, and today’s performance exuded maximized expressiveness, physicality, and vocal strength.

Act I, 1979, opens with the five main characters dressed as shepherds in robes, with long, wooden staffs, singing “Four Jews in a Room Bitching”. Then they take off the costumes and begin the Manhattan-based scenario. Living together in an apartment are Marvin (Mr. Borle), his ex-wife, Trina (Ms. Block), his lover Whizzer (Mr. Rannells), and Marvin and Trina’s son, 10 year-old Jason (Anthony Rosenthal). Both Marvin and Trina regularly visit Mendel, the psychiatrist, who eventually meets at their home to help Jason cope with the new communal arrangement. Of course, Mendel falls for Trina, to be cajoled into proposing by the young Jason, who, it turns out, becomes the wise one everyone turns to for life-affecting decisions. Act II, 1981, Whizzer and Marvin meet again, after separating, and whizzer falls to the court, ill, during racket ball. Joining the unfolding drama are two more characters, neighbors, Dr. Charlotte (Tracie Thoms), an internist, and her lover, Cordelia (Ms. Wolfe), a caterer. With the five lead characters so thoroughly revealed in the first act, it’s welcoming to meet two new women in the second act, who bring charm and gravitas, as well as a few more songs.

Without destroying any sense of surprise in further plot twists, other than to mention the inevitable bar mitzvah for Jason toward the show’s curtain, a multitude of songs occur, as, once again, this is a sung-through narrative. Esoteric musings, college-level conversations (including Jason, who converses beyond his years), internalized rants, and spiritual yearnings all evolve gorgeously in tune and lyric. Among these sensational songs, Ms. Block brought down the house with her “I’m Breaking Down”, replete with perfect, illustrative props. Mr. Borle and Mr. Rannells’ closer, “What Would I Do?” was sung in duo with silken words gliding into the air, while Mr. Rannells, Mr. Borle, Anthony Rosenthal, and Mr. Uranowitz’ “March of the Falsettos”, in phosphorescent patches of costume on black, are all particularly memorable, even though each song was stunning on its own. The Act I lead characters perform as an exquisite ensemble, no one actor outshining the other. Expanded by the two additional characters in Act II, the ensemble is strengthened and enriched.

Mr. Lapine has directed the ensemble to develop the narrative’s wit, grief, and turmoil with eloquence and spirit. Spencer Liff’s choreography includes jumping upon and down from sets with astounding balance and technique. Those sets, by David Rockwell, are brilliantly designed, a magnification of children’s wood blocks, as the family builds and rebuilds. The backdrop, of Manhattan, including the twin towers, is mostly chiaroscuro, with sunlight, sunset, or nighttime coloration emanating in shadows. Jennifer Caprio’s costumes include appropriate early 1980’s wear, plus a baseball outfit for Jason and apron for Trina. Jeff Croiter’s lighting is especially perfected in the backdrop and “March”, while Dan Moses Schreier’s sound is always crisp and never over-amplified. Vadim Feichtner’s music direction keeps the songs classy and unique, in the gestalt of the sung-through composition. Kudos to all.

Christian Borle and Andrew Rannells
in "Falsettos"
Courtesy of Joan Marcus

Stephanie J. Block and Brandon Uranowitz
in "Falsettos"
Courtesy of Joan Marcus

Anthony Rosenthal, Betsy Wolfe, Tracie Thoms, Christian Borle,
Stephanie J. Block, Brandon Uranowitz, and Andrew Rannells
in "Falsettos"
Courtesy of Joan Marcus

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at