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Time Wears Down Topics of 'Falsettos'

October 09, 1998|F. KATHLEEN FOLEY

Despite a smooth rendering by director David Galligan, "Falsettos" at the St. Genesius demonstrates how quickly a piece of contemporary theater can show its age.

Actually a combination of two separate musicals, "Falsettos," with music and lyrics by William Finn, book by Finn and James Lapine, is a 1992 Tony winner (for best score and book) that ran for more than a year on Broadway.

The first act, mounted in the 1980s as "March of the Falsettos," is an attenuated and sadly dated comedy-drama about the complications that arise when Marvin (Michael Laun) leaves his wife, Trina (Kimberly Lewis), and son Jason (Alex Mandelberg) for his gay lover, Whizzer (Paul Green). Predictably, Trina winds up romantically involved with Marvin's shrink, Mendel (Bret Shefter).

The more contemporary second act, produced in the '90s as "Falsettoland," has truer emotional pitch--perhaps because it ranges beyond the niggling personal problems of its yuppie protagonists to more profound concerns, namely the onset of the AIDS crisis. ("In Trousers," the prequel to both plays, is the first part of the trilogy.)

Almost overcoming the limitations of their material, Galligan and his cast forge a comfy, laid-back family dynamic that washes over us like a warm bath. Musical director/pianist Richard Berent and his capable singers smartly execute Finn's complicated and repetitive score. Particular standouts are Lewis, as Marvin's ex, and Kathy Garrick and Jessica Pennington as Marvin's stalwart lesbian pals.

*

* "Falsettos," St. Genesius Theatre, 1049 Havenhurst Drive, West Hollywood. Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 7 p.m. Ends Nov. 8. $20. (323) 660-8587. Running time: 2 hours, 45 minutes.

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