FALSETTOS

falsettos-christian-borle-andrew-rannells

Christian Borle and Andrew Rannells in FALSETTOS. Photo by Joan Marcus.

**** 1/2

“Well, the situation’s this, it’s not tough to comprehend. I divorced my wife, I left my child and I ran off with a ‘friend.’ But I want a tight-knit family,” sings Marvin, the demanding lead character of FALSETTOS. By the final chords of the show, Marvin has his tight-knit, extended family, but it took a plague to get there.

I won’t bore you with my lengthy history with the show, let’s just say that I can recite every lyric, musical note and stage action that was changed over the years in various incarnations. So how does this version hold up? Exceedingly well.

Stephanie J. Block is funny, poignant and dazzling as Trina, her rendition of “I’m Breaking Down” is a high point. Brandon Uranowitz, Tracie Thoms, and Betsy Wolfe are all equally wonderful in their roles. I found the casting of Andrew Rannells as pretty boy-toy Whizzer a little too spot on for my taste, but his performance is excellent.  Child Actor Anthony Rosenthal only earns one of those two descriptors; he is a child, and then there is Christian Borle‘s Marvin.

I expected so much more from this two-time Tony award-winning actor. Mr. Borle is known for his broad and funny characterizations so in toning down the comedy, he seems to have abandoned Marvin’s edge.  It’s a shame because James Lapine‘s updated direction is thrilling. William Finn‘s songs are as witty and heart-breaking as ever. The revised lyrics fit seamlessly. How wonderful to see this beloved musical wearing new clothes and feeling fresh. It is an almost perfect revival, but you will need to bring tissues.

Here is a clip from the current production.

Here is a clip of the original 1992 Broadway cast on the Tonys.

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