Falsettos Raises Awareness

Set during a time period where AIDS was quickly approaching the forefront of society, Falsettos is a musical that is based on a book written by William Finn and James Lapine.

Falsettos amazes the audiences.

Theater interior
© Aerogondo | Dreamstime Stock Photos

The entire production is music start to finish. At first the playbill was daunting. There were two acts with about 20 songs. Each act had an intermission in between. Surprisingly this 2 hour and 30 minute production progressed quickly and quite well throughout both acts. The entire Falsettos’ cast consisted of seven extremely talented actors, the youngest being an adorable boy, Jacob Tall, who is in eighth grade.

The Falsettos’ performance took place in the L. Howard Fox Theater on the campus of Montclair State University in Montclair, N.J. At first glance I was a bit concerned about the ability to put on a full production, band included, in such a small theater. But, this production could not have been set in a more appropriate place.

The set consisted of outlined figures that are associated with the AIDS movement. There was no set change, simply a panel that was rotated in the back and different pieces of set that came on stage occasionally. This show spoke volumes because it did not need flashy set changes or a large theater setting, the music and the storyline spoke enough. The size of the theater complimented the show very well and helped the audience feel as though they were a part of the story and were being spoken to personally throughout every musical number.

Another enjoyable factor of this show was how much fun the cast appeared to be having. Although the second act proved to be a bit more somber than the first, every song that was sung was filled with vivacious vocals and outstanding passion. It was quite evident that the people on stage enjoyed the performance that they were putting on and I believe that made the show even more enjoyable.

Ranging in age from an eighth grader to a senior from Montclair State, the casting for this show was also done quite well. Each individual truly emulated the role that they played and made the viewing experience real. The show had two main couples, Trina (played by Olivia Polci) and Mendel (by Tyler Schneck) and Marvin (John Caliendo) and Whizzer (Eric Jones). These two dynamic duos beautifully and majestically narrated a story of betrayal, sadness, joy, humor and so much more.  There were so many great moments musically that made the overall show so entertaining.  Some of my favorites from the performance were, ” I’m Breaking Down” (Trina), “March of the Falsettos” (Jason, Mendel, Marvin, Whizzer), and “The Year Of the Child” (Jason, Trina*, Marvin, Mendel*,  Dr. Charlotte and Cordelia).

The conclusion of Falsettos’ show was quite moving. The rotating panels that were in the back of the stage were turned around and had images that served as memorial pieces for individuals who have lost their lives to AIDS.  This was special to watch because the AIDS time period in our society is not easily approached or discussed. This silent tribute paid homage to the situation without overdoing it or crossing over any boundaries. Falsettos was put on by the Montclair State Department of Theatre and Dance partnered with the John J. Cali School of Music. The production ran from Dec. 6-11, 2013.

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