10.17.2006

Let's pretend that nothing is awful

I've never seen my favorite musical. It has played out in my mind's eye a hundred times, and if I were given the chance to turn it into a film, I don't think there's one shot I haven't already gone over in my head. When I need to cry but just can't muster the tears, I'll put in the soundtrack. If no one's around, I'll sing along with Marvin and Trina and Jason and Wizzer and Mendel and Dr. Charlotte and Cordelia.
Written and composed by William Finn, Falsettoland is the final installment of the Marvin trilogy. I've only heard a couple songs from the first musical--In Trousers. Falsettoland, luckily, is packaged with March of the Falsettos (the second in the series). While March of the Falsettos is good, like many second installments, it doesn't have the conclusion that only Falsettoland can provide.
The story, basically, is that Marvin and his ex-wife have to plan for their son's bar mitzvah. Marvin reconnects with his lover, Wizzer, only to find out that Wizzer has AIDS. The musical takes place in 1981 when AIDS was being called gay cancer. This is not musical as spectacle, like so many musicals tend to be these days.
This musical informed so much of my understanding about gay relationships, and the impact of AIDS on our community. Of course, I was closer to the son's age than Marvin's, but I could still see the truths that the play revealed.

Below are a couple clips. The first is from the 1992 Tony Awards.


The second is from the original production with the original cast. It takes place toward the end of the show. It is one of the standout numbers. The two queer couples sing of their love. The part that always chokes me up in this song is this:
Cordelia - We don't know what time will bring
Wizzer - I've a clue
Marvin - I have, too
Cordelia and Dr. Charlotte - Let's act like we haven't
And then they sing about the sky and such. The implication, of course, is that Wizzer and Marvin will both soon die from AIDS, but like friends sometimes do, they pretend that nothing is awful. It is intimate moments like this that one of those spectacle musicals couldn't pull off convincingly.
My only issue with this clip is the business that the director has Marvin and Wizzer doing--I mean, playing cards? It feels a little forced.
Anyway, here you go:



So, if some local college or theater puts this show on, make it a point to go see it. I'm sure tickets will be cheaper than Wicked.

3 comments:

Bewareoftheblog said...

Don't get your hopes up.

Opening now on Broadway is "Mary Poppins" and the uber-straight, but O SO GAY revival of "Company."

Tennille said...

Funny you should bring this up

http://www.telecharge.com/behindTheCurtain.aspx

Want to come back to NYC?

jeremy said...

I would love to see Company and A Chorus Line . . . maybe there will be another trip in the not too distant future.