Harlequin Productions’ artistic director Aaron Lamb says, “People are messy, people are complicated, and there’s beauty in that. That’s what makes us human.”
That is what the musical Falsettos by William Finn and James Lapine is all about.
It is 1979 in New York just as the AIDS epidemic is beginning to spread. A charming, intelligent, neurotic gay man named Marvin (Jon Lutyens) has recently divorced his wife, Trina (Meg McLynn), and started a relationship with Whizzer (Nicholas Main). Marvin is also struggling to establish and maintain a loving relationship with his son, Jason (Josh Doyle) and keep up a cordial and supportive relationship with Trina.
Marvin is in therapy. His psychiatrist, Mendel (Bruce Haasl) is also seeing Trina, and that develops into a romance. Jason turns to Whizzer as a friend and father figure. As the play unfurls, these evolving relationships grow increasingly complex.
Jason says, “Dad says love is the most beautiful thing in the world; I think the most beautiful thing in the world is chess.” Two years later in Act II at the time of his bar mitzvah, Jason will repeat that but change the word chess to girls.
Directed by Corey McDaniel, with music direction by Lamb, Harlequin’s Falsettos garnered Tony Awards for Best Original Score and Best Book of a Musical in 1992 and was nominated again after its 2016 revival.
Falsettos is a sung-through musical, meaning there is no traditional dialog. Everything is sung. The play begins light-hearted and quirky, and soon becomes deadly serious. The characters, every one of them, sing beautifully, dance, play baseball and tennis, and love one another fiercely, including the lesbian neighbor couple, Dr. Charlotte (Kristen Natalia) and Cordelia (Karen Terry), who don’t appear on stage until the second act. Also notable but not specifically credited to someone is choreography which was exceptional.
Deserving of special notice are longtime Harlequin favorite Haasl as the psychiatrist, Mendel, Lutyens as Marvin, McLynn as Trina, and newcomer Doyle as the irascible teen Jason.
All of the characters come across as very real human beings in all their complexity.
This play is both realistic and almost surrealistic, comical and tragic. It runs 2 ½ hourswith a 20-minute intermission.
Art in the Lobby
A selection of Roxanna Groves’s art will be on display in the State Theater lobby during the run of Falsettos. Like much of the play, Groves’s art is quirky and delightful, but with underlying serious messages about life — in this instance delivered by dogs and cats.
Production photos by Shanna Paxton Photography
7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday through July 22
Harlequin Productions at State Theater, 202 4th Avenue E, Olympia
General $50 • Senior/Military $46 • Student/Youth $33 Groups 6+ $40