Don Reviews "Falsettos"
“You don’t know what you got until it’s gone” is a phrase that has probably been true to all of us at some point in your life, which can be paired with “the grass is not always greener on the other side”. One of the biggest examples of this comes to love and relationships, and that is at the core of “Falsettos,” which is playing at the Winspear Opera House through February 17th.
Written by William Finn and James Lapine and taking place from 1979 to 1981, it is the story of Marvin (Max von Essen), his estranged wife Trina (Eden Espinosa), their son Jason (Thatcher Jacobs), their psychiatrist Mendel (Nick Blaemire), and the man Marvin left his wife for, Whizzer (Nick Adams). From the way they interact with each other to what becomes a love “rectangle” and even Jason’s journey to manhood in the Judaic faith, each of them deal with the situation in their own way, and by the time the lights go up, none of them are the same.
The production starts with a cube (set against a backdrop of the New York City skyline) made out of many pieces that when taken apart make up the sets themselves in all types of configurations, which I thought was inventive and imaginative. There are only a few other props like a chess set, but that is about it until late in Act II. It was simple, but effective. The cast is good overall, although Byronha Marie Parham as Dr. Charlotte and Audrey Cardwell as Cordelia also only show up in the second act. My shout-out has to go to Jacobs, whose performance was very advanced for his age and I cannot say enough how impressed I was.
I really loved the core message, main storylines, and how it all comes together at the end, and it was very daring to be done basically as an American opera, but IT IS WAY TOO LONG. I say it again: IT IS WAY TOO LONG. At over forty songs total, at least ten could have easily been cut out of what is about two and a half hours long (not counting the fifteen minute intermission). I feel like they extended the production to be in the same time length as other productions, and I don’t understand why even others have to run that long themselves. This would have been much better if thirty to forty-five minutes were cut out. Also, there is also way too much time spent talking about Jason’s bar mitzvah in the second act, as it is referenced in almost every song, and the ending itself can be seen coming from a mile away. And be advised that due to some very adult themes and content, this is not for the whole family. Put all of this together and I will only recommend seeing this production with the cheapest seats possible.