Ridge Recap: The Original Cast of FALSETTOS Talks Favorite Moments, Staying on Pitch, and How They Feel About Passing the Torch
When Falsettos first premiered on Broadway in 1992, the show gained instant status as a game changer. With William Finn's brave new style of musical theatre composition and in placing the lives of queer characters at the forefront of its storytelling, the show has become a cultural landmark and a blueprint for the array of modern musical theatre that followed in its wake.
It has been over twenty years since the original Falsettos appeared on Broadway. With a brand new cast currently gearing up for the first Broadway revival of the show, BroadwayWorld correspondent, Richard Ridge has created a video series interviewing the show's original cast about their experiences, the show's legacy, and how Falsettos opened up the musical theatre landscape, proving that love really can tell a million stories.
In the first part of the series, Richard spoke with Michael Rupert, Stephen Borgardus, Carolee Carmello, Heather MacRae, Chip Zien and Jonathan Kaplan on their beginnings with the show and how the experience has altered their lives and careers. Part two, takes us through the show's first steps toward Broadway, the challenges in taking the brave new work out on tour, and the emotional heft of performing such a timely piece at the height of the AIDS crisis. The third and final installment of the series finds Richard and the cast reminiscing about favorite songs, memorable moments, and what it feels like to pass the torch to the all-new tight knit family of the first Broadway revival. Here are a few things we learned in the final part of our panel with the original Broadway cast of Falsettos.
Stephen Borgardus keeps the cast in tune:
More than one cast member cited the song, "Four Unlikely Lovers" as their favorite moment in the show. In fact, the cast is still asked to perform the tune from time to time . Heather McRae and Carolee Carmello admit to being a little rusty on the music and lyrics after all these years, but that's where Stephen Borgardus, the show's original "Whizzer" steps in. Borgardus, who was known to call his own rehearsals with his cast mates during the run of the show, is still very well versed in the show's music and lends a helping hand when one of his former cast mates loses their way. Though Borgardus insists, "I don't know the part, I just know when you're singing it wrong."
The moment in the show that keeps Michael Rupert tearing up after over twenty years:
Michael Rupert pointed to a moment in the show's finale as his personal favorite, citing lyrics from the song, "What Would I Do?" in which Mendel sings, "Lovers come and lovers go. Lovers live and die fortissimo. This is where we take a stand. Welcome to Falsettoland." Recalling Lapine's simple direction of having the ensemble come together in a symbol of unity and resolve upon the recitation of those lyrics is something Rupert says still makes him emotional to this day.
Chip Zien looks back on the show's lighter moments:
Though many members of the cast chose some of the more tender moments in the show as their favorite, Chip Zien fondly reminisced about performing some of the show's comedic numbers. Among his favorites are the energetic opening number, "Four Jews in a Room Bitching" and "The Baseball Game", stating simply, "We were having the time of our lives...It was just so much fun to do."
On passing the torch to an all-new "Tight Knit Family"
More than one member of the group confirmed that the show is a physical, emotional, and vocal challenge, but overall the original cast of the show agreed that the current company of the revival is more than up to the task. Stephen Borgardus added that any cast that does the show will no doubt become a family, citing the original cast's many years of sustained friendship since the original production. He noted that the storytelling of the show is "so absorbing, it would be almost banal to try to come up with some quirky thing to tell them, because I think they'll find it themselves."
On coming together for this reunion:
Chip Zien confirmed that the cast has retained an incredible amount of love for one another since Falsettos first ran on Broadway, and even recently came together for a reunion at Zien's summer home for a production of the show in upstate New York. Zien confirmed, "It's family. We keep saying this same word, but it really is a family. We grew up together." As to the show's future, the group expressed excitement for the Broadway revival and what Chip Zien refers to as a "phenomenal cast."