BWW Review: The National Tour of FALSETTOS at Winspear Opera House
Love: it brings joy and fear and peace and pain. You don't always know what you're going to get. Is love worth stepping into the unknown? What would you do for love? Falsettos, now playing at the Winspear Opera House, addresses these questions and the risks we take in loving.
Marvin (played by Max von Essen) had a wife and a beautiful son, Jason (Thatcher Jacobs at this performance). He wants his "tight-knit family," but another love threatens to tear them apart: men. He is in love with an impishly handsome man named Whizzer (Nick Adams) - although their love is fueled by a fire that equally burns with passion and destroys like an inferno. Marvin's ex, Trina (Eden Espinosa), is struggling mentally with this revelation, but her ex-husband's psychiatrist Mendel (Nick Blaemire) is more than happy to help her find her balance. Act Two adds a lesbian couple next door for comic relief (Bryonha Marie Parham and Audrey Cardwell), and the cast for this charming, touching tale is complete. Is loving worth the pain of loss?
The tour version of the Broadway revival of Falsettos opens this week here in Dallas. With music and lyrics by William Finn (SPELLING BEE, A NEW BRAIN) and book by Finn and James Lapine (INTO THE WOODS, PASSION), the opening night audience was completely drawn in by the Sondeheim-esque melodies as well as the touching story. James Lapine also directs the show and his simple-but-not-simplistic vision allows viewers to easily follow the episodic story, as well as the characters' emotional journeys, by opting for an abstract yet versatile set. Spencer Liff's choreography is perfect. Each move is intentional, well executed and only adds to the telling of the story.
The cast is brilliantly assembled and all of them are entrancing performers; but it is definitely the men who steal the show. Max von Essen (Marvin) has several of the most intimate musical moments, and he calls the audience to him with his unwavering, gorgeous baritone voice. Songs like "Father to Son," "What More Can I Say?" and "What Would I Do?" cause the hardest of hearts to burst. Nick Blaemire (Mendel) plays the role of the quirky, yet sincere psychologist with an honesty that allows him to transcend what could be a sitcom-like performance. The youngest of the males onstage, Thatcher Jacobs play Jason, a boy who is struggling through puberty, parental divorce and the coming out of his father. It is rare to find a child actor who is literally a triple threat: his vocals were top quality, his acting matched that of his scene partners, and his dancing was adorable.
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.
FALSETTOS continues at the Winspear Opera House through Sunday, February 17th, 2019. Tickets and more information may be found at www.attpac.org.