WORTH A LOOK?: ***
WHERE? Other Palace RUNTIME: 160 minutes (with a 20-minute interval)
WHEN? 30/8, opens 5/9 and runs to 23/11/19
There is a song here, Breaking Down, that is so good and so well performed by Laura Pitt-Pulford that you’ll want to stand and cheer at its conclusion towards the end of the opening half.
- Read on for reasons including how this 1st preview won its standing ovation
Pitt-Pulford plays Trina who is breaking down because her family is breaking up as husband Marvin (the always reliable Daniel Boys) finds same sex love in the US in 1979 with heartthrob Whizzer (a well cast Oliver Savile).
We were looking forward to the appearance of former X Factor winner Matt Cardle as psychiatrist Mendel but he pulled out shortly before opening as rehearsals while performing in Jesus Christ Superstar at the Barbican had not gone well.
Cardle is replaced by Joel Montague who we last saw opposite Sheridan Smith in Funny Girl and he brings real charm and comedy to a role which benefits a great deal from it. It’s hard to imagine Cardle doing it any better.
Montague’s psychiatrist interacts closely with Trina and Marvin’s young son Jason, played at this 1st preview by Elliot Morris. Although there are occasional laughs, notably when the boy sings My Dad’s A Homo, it was this child’s eye view of a disintegrating relationship that we felt worked least well.
William Finn premiered his one-act musical In Trousers off Broadway in 1979, the year when the action here begins. Two years later Finn, collaborating with James Lapine, created 2 additional 1-acts, March of the Falsettos and Falsettoland, exploring the lives of Marvin, his family and friends. These premiered off Broadway in 1982 and 1990 respectively.
March of the Falsettos played at the Albery Theatre in London’s West End in 1987 and this is the 1st time that the Marvin trilogy has been staged in the UK.
Lapine has worked with Sondheim and Breaking Down is the polar opposite of I’m Still Here from Follies yet Falsettoland reminds of Loveland from the same show.
At 39 songs, Falsettos has many highs but just feels a little too long. It’s well performed here with Gemma Knight-Jones and Natasha J Barnes injecting a lot of fun as the lesbian neighbours and Boys especially good in the emotional finale singing What Would I Do?
We would describe this as value for money for true musical theatre fans rather than especially high quality to be appreciated by all.