It’s a musical about baseball, bar mitzvahs, psychiatry, and a late-in-life coming out. Let’s attend a rehearsal of Peppermint Creek Theatre’s production of ‘Falsettos’ with WKAR’s Jamie Paisley.
Right off the bat, you get a sense that the Tony-nominated Best Musical called Falsettos by William Finn, being presented at the Peppermint Creek Theatre in Lansing this weekend and next, is different… I mean, the opening number of the musical is called “4 Jews in a Room, Bitching.”
[Audio of the cast of Peppermint Creek's 'Falsettos' Rehearsing "Four Jews In A Room, Bitching]
Falsettos director at Peppermint Creek Theater, Ben Cassidy: "So William Finn's music is just insane. So the harmonies are super tight. The melodies are so crazy. There are moments of the show when you have five-or-six different people all singing completely different rhythms and melodies and it all just sounds so cohesive, which doesn't sound like it's possible, but he makes it work. And it's just having this cast is just amazing. The fact that they're able to pull this off is mind-boggling to me."
[Rehearsal of the song "Everyone Hates His Parents"]
The musical Falsettos which won best score and book at the 1992 Tonys is about a man named Marvin, as he realizes late in life that he’s gay, divorces his wife, finds a boyfriend, and struggles to continue to connect with his son, Jason, who is played in the Peppermint Creek Theater’s production by Phineas Reed. Phineas also has the added difficulty of singing in a different language, Hebrew.
"Oh yeah. Oh, I don't like that part." recalls Reed. "But I got used to it. Particularly, there's one part in Hebrew that I completely didn't understand. It was totally messed up. Like, it didn't look real. So, I had to work on that a lot."
[Rehearsal of the song "Year of the Child"]
Matt Eldred plays Marvin, the lead in Peppermint Creek’s Falsettos: "I compare it most to 'Next to Normal' which won the Pulitzer Prize a couple of years ago and when it won the Pulitzer Prize, the committee said one of the reasons it won was for helping musical theater, in general, realize it's potential. And what they meant was taking something that's such a large scale medium and telling a really small story with it. In that case it was just like a photograph of a family in crisis. And in this case, William Finn is doing the exact same thing. It's essentially opera, and what he's doing with this opera, with two-and-a-half hours of singing, singing, singing, is going 'This is a family that's struggling and let me tell a story of a family.' Everyone's trying to find their identity: Who am I? What am I? What does love mean? What does family mean? What does the future mean? and he does that with the biggest possible canvas that you can come up with. So it's a really interesting way to tell such a small story.
[Rehearsal of the song "The Baseball Game"]
The Peppermint Creek Theatre’s Falsettos by William Finn runs November 2-5 & 9-12 in South Lansing, off Miller Rd. More info at peppermintcreek.org.