Falsettoland – Review by Bonnie Goldberg

Now that the world has recently experienced the wrath of a pandemic, it is not so difficult to look backward forty years to the devastating experience of AIDS, a mysterious illness that reared its ugly head in the 1980’s. At the center to any crisis is how it affects the participants, the family unit, the people who surround us and hold us together. Music Theatre of Connecticut is inviting us to revisit an earlier time and struggle with the family members and friends at the center as they present “Falsettoland” with book by James Lapine and music and lyrics by William Finn, running weekends until Sunday November 21.

Come meet real life father and son, Dan and Ari Sklar, as they become Marvin and Jason with all the messy baggage that comes with family life. Marvin has struggled with his identity and has taken a younger, good looking male lover Whizzer, Max Meyers, and divorced his wife Trina, Corinne C. Broadbent, in the process. His connection, however, to their teenage son Jason remains strong.

Approaching thirteen, Jason is on the cusp of manhood, almost ready to stand on the bimah of the synagogue as a Bar Mitzvah. Or is he? Watching his dad reconnect with Whizzer after years apart, seeing his mother remarry the man who has been the encouraging psychiatrist for the family, Mendel, played by Jeff Gurner, and witnessing the loving relationship of friends Dr. Charlotte, Jessie Janet Richards, and the non-Jewish caterer Cordelia, Elissa DeMaria, Jason is understandably conflicted over whether he wants this Jewish rite of passage to take place or not. When Whizzer comes down with an unexplainable illness, Jason is justifiably confused even more.

While Jason sings of his need for “Another Miracle of Judaism,” his mom struggles with her ability to cope in “Holding to the Ground.” Each member of this extended family is in crisis as Whizzer philosophically proclaims “You Gotta Die Sometime.” The audience easily becomes part of the community trying to help keep this non-traditional family together, whether it’s with chicken soup or the expansive strength of caring and love.

For tickets ($35-65 plus fees), call Music Theater of Connecticut, 509 Westport Avenue, Route One, Norwalk at 203-454-3883 or online at www.musictheatreofct.com/falsettoland. Performances are Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., and Sunday at 2 p.m. A special Pride Night will take place on November 12 at 8 p.m. Remember to bring your proof of vaccination and your mask.

Let director Kevin Connor escort you as guide for this intensely personal journey into Jason’s world as he struggles with the decisions that will mark his religious rite of passage. This theatrical experience surely will strengthen the bonds of father and son as they celebrate Ari’s bar mitzvah in June in Israel. Mazel tov, mazel tov!

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