After AIDS, love endures—and so does Falsettos | Theater Review | Chicago Reader

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After AIDS, love endures—and so does Falsettos

The glorious Broadway revival makes a quick stop in Chicago.


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Halfway through the first act of Falsettos, Trina, a woman whose husband has left her for a younger man and who is on the verge of remarriage to her husband's therapist, sings, "I'm tired of all the happy men who rule the world. They grow—of that I'm sure. They grow—but don't mature."

But the men in William Finn and James Lapine's 1992 musical (revived under Lapine's direction at Lincoln Center in 2016 and now making a brief but glorious touring appearance here) are neither as happy nor as powerful as Trina imagines. Marvin (Max von Essen), her ex, is a deeply insecure control freak who wants both "A Tight Knit Family," as he sings early on, with Trina (Eden Espinosa) and their preadolescent son, Jason (Thatcher Jacobs, alternating with Jonah Mussolino), as well as the monogamous devotions of Whizzer (Nick Adams), his new paramour. Mendel (Nick Blaemire) is the wry shrink in the middle of the mess.

Constructed out of two earlier one-acts, March of the Falsettos and Falsettoland, the show provides a keen (if occasionally self-conscious) portrait of life before and after the onset of the AIDS epidemic, when families of both blood and affinity found themselves forced to mature in a hurry. Finn's gorgeous score sets self-lacerating lyrics against a complex musical landscape that the cast navigates with wit and full-voiced depth. When David Rockwell's fanciful set of gray playing blocks gives way to a realistic hospital room, we know that playtime is over—but love can endure.   v

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