Attending the opening night of Falsettos at Chapel off Chapel was, for me, also a bit of a first. If I possessed even a semi quaver worth of the talent of this rapaciously gifted ensemble, then I would perhaps deliver the first part of this review as a ‘Falsetto-esq’ patter song.
“A show – That I kinda know – And yet have never seen – A venue – I’ve only heard of – But sadly never been”
(I attempted to add that this was also the first time I have attended a StageArt production, but I conceded that my lyrical abilities fell a little short of the shows writer William Finn.)
If by chance, you are reading this and any of the above is also true, then act quickly because the worst thing about this production is how short the run is.
Seeing any revival will naturally prompt the “why now” question, and yes, when watching this fast-paced show, it is at times necessary to remind ourselves that this content was written when terms like ‘Marriage Equality’ were unheard of let alone conceived. While for some of us, the 80’s and 90’s don’t feel so terribly foreign, these pieces, particularly for younger audiences, offer a painful insight into a time when optimism for those affected by HIV and AIDS was all but absent.
Much like the similarly themed and recently revived ‘Angels in America’, Falsettos began life as separate stand-alone pieces. March of the Falsettos (1981) and Falsettoland (1990) were combined and opened as one show on Broadway in 1992.
Described as the story of an unconventional, dysfunctional, yet very loving family in New York in the late 1970s and poignant reminder that love can tell a million stories, Director Tyran Parke has perfectly cast and assembled an incredibly match fit group of performers and then handed them over to Musical Director David Butler to be drilled and tightly wound up for our benefit.
Like a series of extraordinary auditions, this show is a performers gift because no one is without an opportunity to deliver. In a lesser production this could clearly be perilous for some but with performers of this calibre, the audience really is the winner. In seeking things to say in a review as one does while watching a performance, initial thoughts of, “I’ll mention her” or “I’ll highlight him” truly did vanish during the final bows. Everyone in this show is astonishingly good with any preference being only a matter of character or musical number.
For a performer, it is always a joy to see your name in a review and given my genuine inability to draw distinction, I make no apology for simply providing a list. Massive congratulations to, Don Winsor, Sarah Shahinian, Sam Ward, Nick Simpson-Deeks, Ben Jason-Easton, Riley Flood, Francesca Arena, Jenni Little, Bianca Bruce and Lachie Graham.
In reflecting again on the kinds of equality and the medical advances many of us now accept as a given, the choice of companies like StageArt to restage pieces like Falsettos is indeed a fitting tribute to those who used creativity as a response to some of the enormous challenges faced in our very recent past.
by William Finn
Director Tyran Parke
Venue: Chapel off Chapel | 12 Little Chapel Street, Prahran
Dates: 1 – 12 February 2018
Part of the 2018 Midsumma Festival