Regional Reviews: Connecticut and the Berkshires
In the lead role of Marvin, Dan Sklar really anchors the show and he gives a forceful and moving performance. Marvin has divorced his wife Trina to take up with a male lover named Whizzer. Also important to the plot is Mendel, Trina's new husband (and Marvin's former psychiatrist), as well as Marvin and Trina's son Jason, who is about to become bar mitzvah. Figuring into the show, as well, are Dr. Charlotte and Cordelia, more often referred to as the "lesbians from next door."
Throughout the show, one sees the date 1981 on the back wall of the stage, the year AIDS was first recognized by the CDC. This is a theme in Falsettoland, and the journey the show takes is full of unexpected moments and events.
In addition to Dan Sklar's fine portrayal of Marvin, Max Meyers is a strong-voiced and handsome Whizzer, and Meyers brings many shadings to his role. As Trina, Corinne C. Broadbent is terrific and she delivers an especially powerful "Holding to the Ground" in the second half of the show. Jeff Gurner shines as a very funny Mendelhis big number with Ari Sklar as Jason, "Everybody Hates His Parents," is a real showstopper. Ari Sklar is ideal as Jason, with an excellent singing voice; he is Dan Sklar's son in real life, and they are truly great together onstage.
As Dr. Charlotte, Jessie Janet Richards is quite fine, and it is high praise to say that she often brings to mind the original actress who created the role, Heather MacRae. Elissa DeMaria is endearing as Cordelia, a self-proclaimed "kosher caterer."
All of the cast members ride the many waves of this musical splendidly. They are fully up to singing the demanding score, making "Unlikely Lovers" and the shattering final song, "What Would I Do?," almost emotionally overwhelming.
Director Kevin Connors also works fantastically with his design team. Scenic designer Lindsay Fuori has gone for an appropriately minimalist set with a real New York feel. Costume designer Diane Vanderkroef has dressed the actors in costumes that help to precisely define each of the characters. The lighting design by RJ Romeo is highly effective, and the expert musical direction is by David John Madore, who leads what is referred to in Falsettoland as a "teeny tiny band." The sound design by Will Atkin is crystal clear, letting the audience easily hear every line and lyric.
Interestingly, the director has inserted an intermission in the middle of the show, which is usually performed in one act. I was curious as to how this would affect the dynamics of the musical, but it still works brilliantly, even with that break in the action.
By all means, go to see this production at Music Theatre of Connecticut of Falsettoland, one that is joyful, aching and, ultimately, as devastating as ever.
Falsettoland runs through November 21, 2021, at Music Theatre of Connecticut, 509 Westport Ave., Norwalk CT. For tickets, please visit www.musictheatreofct.com.