Review Roundup: What Did Critics Think of FALSETTOS on Tour?

Review Roundup: What Did Critics Think of FALSETTOS on Tour?The National Tour of Falsettos is underway!

The full cast is led by Broadway superstars Nick Adams as "Whizzer," Nick Blaemire as "Mendel," Eden Espinosa as "Trina" and Max von Essen as "Marvin," with Audrey Cardwell as "Cordelia," Bryonha Marie Parham as "Dr. Charlotte," and just-announced Thatcher Jacobs and Jim Kaplan sharing the role of "Jason." Rounding out the company are Josh Canfield, Melanie Evans, Megan Loughran and Darick Pead.

FALSETTOS revolves around the life of a charming, intelligent, neurotic gay man named Marvin, his wife, lover, about-to-be-Bar-Mitzvahed son, their psychiatrist, and the lesbians next door. It's a hilarious and achingly poignant look at the infinite possibilities that make up a modern family... and a beautiful reminder that love can tell a million stories.

Let's see what the critics have to say!

Chicago, IL

Rachel Weinberg, BroadwayWorld: While the songs of FALSETTOS often flow seamlessly from one to another, Espinosa stops the show with "Breaking Down." The song is a masterful portrait of Trina's attempt to hold it all together, until she just can't anymore. Espinosa hits all the highs and lows with ease, and it's a performance I won't soon forget.

Chris Jones, Chicago Tribune: The all-pro road company of Max von Essen, Nick Adams, Nick Blaemire, Eden Espinosa, Bryonha Marie Parham, Audrey Cardwell and (at opening) the fabulous young Thatcher Jacobs sings the score exquisitely. This is not an unusual occurrence, partly because many factors go into the creation of Broadway casts, allowing for a subsequent tour to be composed of maybe lesser known performers who act and sing just like characters whom the director now knows very well. That's exactly what you get here; truly, the singing is as pitch-perfect as it is organic to the story-telling. At times, I just closed my eyes to listen to the harmonies.

Catey Sullivan, Chicago Sun Times: Physically and emotionally, Whizzer has the most arduous character arc. He's gleaming with taunting, effortless sex appeal in the first act, seriously diminished in the second act. Adams captures both, that early vitality still stubbornly flickering even under a pallor of illness and grief. The young Jacobs is also solid, proving his mettle with "Jason's Therapy" and creating a character who is precocious without being cutesy, wry without seeming prematurely cynical.

Dallas, TX

Wayne Lee Gay, Theater Jones: William Finn's score is both traditional and fresh, and in keeping with the Broadway trends of the 1980s and '90s, it's almost entirely sung, with the sung expository dialogue melding seamlessly into the perpetual outpouring of delightful, gemlike songs. A small ensemble of piano with a single reed player and percussion, placed high up behind the backdrop and conducted from the piano by P. Jason Yarcho, clipped along nicely on Tuesday night; balance and general sound was the best this listener has heard from a touring company in the Winspear Opera House, with almost all of the words easily understood-which is not always the case with Broadway musicals at this venue. Within the music itself, subtle shifts of meter give extra energy to the appealing tunes.

Jared West, BroadwayWorld: The standout performance of the evening was definitely Nick Adams as Whizzer. Though his character is intentionally superficial and, at times, unlikeable, Adams brought a vulnerability that shown through the façade of the All-American twink. His number, "The Games I Play", was captivating and emotional.

Arnold Wayne Jones, Dallas Voice: But what a joyous ride. The ending - one of the saddest in an musical - packs an emotional wallop, but Falsettos is as funny as it is profound, starting from the opening novelty number ("Four Jews in a Room Bitching"), until it rips your heart out {"Cancelling the Bar Mitzvah," "What Would I Do?"). All the performances are spot-on, though it might be Jacobs as young Jason who steals the show from more seasoned adult actors. There is simply no end to the beauty of this show.

St. Paul, MN

Rob Hubbard, Yet you're unlikely to encounter a better production of this musical. As director, Lapine keeps things moving on David Rockwell's set full of mix-and-match building blocks. Max von Essen makes Marvin about as interesting and endearing as one can, despite his character being a manipulative and borderline abusive control freak who alienates everyone around him. Similarly, Nick Blaemire inspires curiosity as the psychologist who violates a host of professional guidelines to take Marvin's place as husband and father.

But the standout among the seven actors is Eden Espinoza as Trina, a virtual bag of cats who feels her identity pulled out from under her when her marriage breaks up. In some ways, "I'm Breaking Down" feels like the thesis statement for "Falsettos," with one idea constantly careening into another and continuity a low priority.

Rohan Preston, Star Tribune: The musical, a Lincoln Center Broadway import directed by James Lapine, is a thing of painful beauty. With stylish and affecting performances, gorgeous songs (by William Finn, who also co-wrote the book with Lapine) and a story that's not all that unusual in the age of "Modern Family" and "Fun Home," "Falsettos" feels contemporary and winning.

John Townsend, Lavender: Every single performance in the Lincoln Center tour is beyond terrific. The musical's very human characters' arcs between the two acts range so that we get to know their personality layers and how they respond to things at a deep level. Humans are complex. Therefore, we see them in a totality rather than black-and-white. The same can even be said of the lesbians, wisely portrayed by Parham and Cardwell, who appear only in Act II.

Sacramento, CA

Courtney Symes, BroadwayWorld: There are many brilliant aspects of this show. David Rockwell's set, a veritable giant Jenga game, is simple yet so complex. Fascinating set changes are made by the actors as the giant pieces are made to be furniture, rooftops, headstones. Costumes by Jennifer Caprio invoke a nostalgia for days past. A cast that cares so much about the story that they are telling and having to use their talent to tell it only through song-there is no distraction of dance or dialogue to help.

Michael P. Coleman, Sac Cultural Club: Other show standouts included Eden Espinosa, who sounds like a young Jodi Benson, Thatcher Jacobs in his national tour debut, and Bryonha Marie Parham, with an almost show-stealing, brassy performance.

Los Angeles, CA

Shari Barrett, BroadwayWorld: The energy required by this extraordinary talented cast rises above any adjectives I can think of to describe them. FALSETTOS is really an operetta, entirely sung-through while Liff's choreography keeps them moving almost non-stop while Lapine's direction requires constant changes being made to what first appears as a large, gray Rubik's cube and then transforms into every single set price needed to represent all the various locations in the show. Not to take away from the brilliance of the actors and magnificent, continuously playing musicians (conducted by P. Jason Yarcho), the scene changes alone are enough to guarantee sell-out shows throughout the tour!

Daryl H. Miller, Los Angeles Times: Nick Blaemire is a treat as playful, funny Mendel. As Jason, Thatcher Jacobs (appearing at Wednesday's opening, one of two young actors in the role) combines a strong boy soprano voice with just the right eye-rolling, give-me-a-break, preteen attitude. Nick Adams' Whizzer might be vain, a bit flighty - and not a big fan of monogamy - but he's a stalwart and compassionate additional father figure.

Dany Margolies, Daily News: The singing voices are beautiful. Each performer has a tone that resembles a musical instrument. Von Essen has a trumpet sound. Blaemire's voice could be a cello. Espinosa could evoke most of an orchestra. And all the actors so fully embody their characters that we are onstage and in their lives with them.

Spencer Liff adds only bits of choreography; this is not a dance show. But his choreography goes with the story, and all his performers look good doing it.

Christopher Peterson, OnStage Blog: Another creative aspect of this musical is the set by David Rockwell, starting with oversized wooden blocks shaped into a cube on an empty stage. This cube is pushed and pulled into pieces to build tables, chairs, and even doorway thresholds. Lighting by Jeff Croiter enhances the set with windows on the New York skyline silhouette, beautiful sunsets and gives us a peek at the orchestra above the set.

Steven Stanley, Stage Scene: Still, if there's anything audiences will be oohing and aahing about long after lights out, it's David Rockell's set, inexplicably ignored by Tony voters, but worth not just a nomination but a win.

The massive white centerstage cube that greets audience members upon arrival turns out to be a gigantic 3-D jigsaw puzzle whose dozens upon dozens of pieces of multiple shapes and sizes morph into increasingly ingenious, complex configurations, a scenic design with even more powerful surprises in store post intermission and one climactic wallop.

Last but not least, Falsetto's terrific "teeny-tiny" band under P. Jason Yarcho's baton proves more than up to the task.

Dyanne Weiss, Liberty Voice: A more involved summation of "Falsettos" would describe a neurotic, pompous Jewish man named Marvin (Max von Essen) who leaves his stay-at-home wife Trina (Eden Espinosa) and soon-to-be-Bar-Mitzvahed son Jason (played by Thatcher Jacobs opening night, alternating performances with Jonah Mussolino). Marvin moves in with his handsome male lover, ridiculously name Whizzer (Nick Adams). Mendel, his shrink (Nick Blaemire) winds up falling for Trina. With the Bar Mitzvah approaching, Whizzer gets sick.

Eric A. Gordon, People's World: All art requires a certain level of suspension of disbelief, and Falsettos presents no exception to the rule. One trust that is dramatically broken is that Mendel the sketchy psychiatrist starts a liaison with Marvin's ex Trina, and Jason is shunted back and forth between these two odd couples. Yet this is maybe the real point: While our sense of identification bends toward Marvin, Jason is truly the central figure around whom all revolves. It is his coming-of-age story, symbolized by the bar mitzvah he imaginatively carries off in his own original fashion, that provides us the comfort of knowing that people, kids included, can be petty resilient if they need to be. In some ways, he may be the most stable and perceptive character in the play (at least among the five "family" members), buffeted about as he has been for years of living without a firm foundation, experiencing exposure to clumsy, awkward, indecisive people and lifestyles that not many kids his age get.

Erin Conley, On Stage and Screen: While Espinosa absolutely steals the show, Adams is also a standout, and his character doesn't get enough moments to let the audience really get to know him. Whizzer's sweet relationship with Jason is one of the more touching aspects of the story, although it would hit even harder if more of its origins were actually shown. In the end, some Great Performances and touching moments are at odds with a messy narrative that feels as forced as a bad falsetto, resulting in a real mixed bag that will leave you scratching your head more than it should.

Matthew Shaffer, LA Dance Chronicle: Eden Espinosa delivers a WICKEDly brilliant performance in, I'm Breaking Down,simultaneously laughing, crying, and belting her way through her conflicted circumstances with nuance making it effortless for the audience to relate to her pain and understand the dynamics of a broken marriage.

Next on Stage

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