Impectibly Acted Falsettos Reflects The Fragility of Social Progress
Reviewed by: Ken Shaw
In the last few years we have seen how quickly our society can change and the fragility of democracy. The many progressive gains in the pursuit of social justice of the last fifty years are now threatened by the very political institutions that were once the remedy.
There is no better representation of this fragility than the magnificent national tour of William Finn and James Lapine’s Falsettos, which opened last night at the Nederlander Theatre. Initially conceived as three one act plays, In Trousers (1979), March of the Falsettos (1981) and Falsettoland (1990), following Marvin’s journey of coming out and the impact it has on his wife Trina, son Jason, and lover, Whizzer.
The 2017 Lincoln Center revival of Falsettos for which this tour stems, expertly combines the two last acts of the trilogy, as Marvin, Whizzer, Trina, and Jason attempt to redefine themselves and their relationships with each other while living in Ronald Regan’s America as the AIDS epidemic takes hold.
Winding down the national tour, Falsettos arrives with an impeccable cast lead by Max Von Essen (Marvin) who in no uncertain terms, was born to play this role. Von Essen’s finest moment comes in his emotional song Father To Son as Marvin reconciles his life through the eyes of his teenage son, Jason.
As his lover Nick Adams strikes the perfect balance of narcissism and wisdom, winning over the audience instantly which only makes his departure all the more emotional. Eden Espinosa brings much texture to Trina as she tries to find her place in a male dominated culture.
By the end of Falsettos each of the characters have transformed by simply loving the person they were meant to love. Where society just a few years ago once forced gay men into a traditional marriage and subvert their sexuality, where the notion of women being equal to men was a slogan, and that the notion of a child raised by a same sex couple would be considered abusive shows how far we have come. Falsettos also warns of the fragile nature of life, its purpose and to never take it for granted.
Falsettos stands alongside Angles In America, Torch Song Trilogy, Burn This and Boys In The Band as a historical reminder to a new generation as not to take for granted the progress made on their behalf.
Falsettos plays for a limited two-week engagement at Broadway In Chicago’s James M. Nederlander Theatre (24 W. Randolph) through June 9, 2019. Individual tickets range in price from $27-$98 with a select number of premium seats available. Visit BroadwayInChicago.com for more information.
Photo: Max von Essen and Nick Adams Credit: Joan Marcus.