A small cast does not equal low energy in the Weekend Theater’s latest production “Falsettos.” The cast of seven captured Saturday night’s audience from the get-go, garnering cheers and guffaws with the opening number “Four Jews in a Room Bitching.”
Set in 1979, Act One finds main character Marvin (Gabriel Washam) at a crossroads: He’s married with a son, but is in love with a man. Though he divorces his wife Trina (Patti Arioldi), Marvin doesn’t want to give up his family. Solution? Invite his lover Whizzer (Seth Kinney) to live with him, his ex-wife and their 10-year-old son Jason (Charlie Askew).
This living situation doesn’t sit well with anyone. The characters ride a roller coaster of emotions that might accompany such a non-traditional family, relating all in song and dance. Act One ends with Trina engaged to Marvin’s psychiatrist, Mendel (Ralph Hyman), Marvin and Whizzer breaking up, and Jason accepting his father’s homosexuality.
The song of note from Act One was Arioldi’s “I’m Breaking Down.” This hilarious number could have easily crossed into corny territory with its burlesque-like choreography and desperate lyrics. But Arioldi’s voice showed amazing range as she highlighted the humor of her situation without losing any depth or emotion.
Act Two fast-forwards to 1981 and introduces neighbor Charlotte (Allison Pace) and her lover Cordelia (Jennifer Jackson). They become the glue that holds Marvin’s family together when Jason refuses to have a Bar Mitzvah, Trina and Mendel have marital difficulties and Whizzer falls ill with AIDS. Though this play is heavy on laughs, there is no happily-ever-after ending in “Falsettos.” However, it does satisfy by emphasizing love and acceptance.
The entire cast deserves a shout-out for keeping harmonies and timing on point through the show, as does music director Steve Whaley for orchestrating exceptional piano/flute accompaniment. And young Charlie Askew was brilliant all the way around. He is already a fine actor with an outstanding voice that will no doubt take him far in musical theater.
“Falsettos” is one of the best performances I’ve seen at the Weekend Theater. So get down to the corner of Seventh and Chester before the show wraps on October 24.