Volume II, Issue II Summer 2003

'Falsettos' well-acted, but lacks pizzazz

Review by Charlene Baldridge

Written by William Finn and James Lapine
Directed by Tim Irving

Diversionary Theatre
4545 Park Boulevard, Suite 101, San Diego, Calif.
Through Aug. 2


William Finn and James Lapine's through-sung musical, "Falsettos," is set in the days before AIDS had a name. For better or worse, depending upon one's taste, Finn's musical style and James Lapine's crisp lyrics are nothing if not informed by the work of Stephen Sondheim.

In production at San Diego's award-winning gay and lesbian theater company, "Falsettos" is in the capable directorial hands of Tim Irving. Add lyrics such as "four men marching, but never mincing," G. Scott Lacy's musical direction, and a well-cast company and it's a tuneful and ultimately touching evening in the theater.

Jon Levenson and 14-year-old Matthew Ira Bohrer are thoroughly believable as the newly out father, Marvin, and his pissed-off son Jason. Melissa Supera-Fernandes, who sings extremely well, is superb as Trina, Marvin's ex.

Falsettos The other men are Marvin's lover Whizzer (Warren G. Nolan Jr.), and Marvin's shrink, Mendel (Andy Collins), who ultimately marries the understandably overwrought Trina. Other characters are the two lesbians next door, one a doctor puzzled over the new disease (solid singer/actor Susan Hammons) and the other a ditzy caterer (Sandy Campbell) who specializes in novelle kosher cuisine and longs to do Jason's Bar Mitzvah.

The open-hearted Levenson presents a sweet-voiced and likable Marvin, more confused than intentionally cruel. Nolan is appealing as Whizzer. As played by the capable Bohrer, Jason's dramatic "journey" from petulant pre-teen to profoundly mature Bar Mitzvah boy is solid, and Bohrer's portrayal, despite a tendency to mug, is the best sung, best-acted Jason one is likely ever to witness.

The production's major flaw, and it's a big one, is that it is not deeply New York, neurotic or Jewish, qualities essential for its intrinsic zest and pizzazz.

Charlene Baldridge is a writer and artist living in San Diego.

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