Marvin grows up!


Book by Lames Lapine Music and Lyrics by William Finn
Directed by Marlo Hunter
Gallery Players
199 14th St. in Brooklyn (718-595-0547)
Equity showcase (closes Nov. 5)
Review by Andrés J. Wrath

Gallery Players' production of William Finn's final chapter in the Marvin trilogy is quite remarkable and proves good theatre can be played anywhere as long as there is a stage and the right group of theatre artists. Director Marlo Hunter did a terrific job with the 1990 revival of the hit Off-Broadway show; it later was coupled with the second installment of the trilogy, The March of the Falsettos and opened on Broadway as Falsettos . The first installment of the trilogy is the rarely performed In Trousers.

In March of the Falsettos the protagonist Marvin leaves his wife Trina for his gay lover Whizzer. He has to deal with the repercussions with his son Jason, who is confused by his parents' breakup. To top things off, Trina shacks up with Marvin's shrink, Mendel. Finally, Marvin has a temper tantrum and Whizzer leaves him. Falsettoland takes place in 1981 a few years after March.... In its opening number, Marvin (Michael Allen Gray) exclaims, "It's about time don't you think, it's about time to grow up and face the music, it's about time." Jason (Kristen Anne Ferraro) is now thirteen and is about to get his bar mitzvah, and Trina (Alison Renee Foster) and Marvin are making the arrangements. Still bitter about their breakup, Marvin's reconciliation with Whizzer (Joe Rux) really puts Trina over the edge. As Marvin and Trina fight over the bar-mitzvah arrangements, Mendel (Joe McGowan) sings to Jason, "Everyone Hates His Parents Sometimes." This story moves into the background, as Dr. Charlotte (Julie Willis) tells her lover Cordelia (Jill Roberts) that "Something Bad is happening." In 1981, that was the surfacing of the virus later named A.I.D.S.

The lyrics and music, by William Finn, are still topnotch and tremendously moving. The book, by James Lapine, seems very simplistic with time's passing. It would have been nice if there were a moment in the story where Marvin makes a decision. His choices seem already made, making some of the story a little manipulated. The cast was topnotch, both in their singing and acting; the only time things seemed to falter was when tears were pushed. It was preferable when they weren't. Gray's Marvin was the perfect embodiment of the immature and the mature, and he only seemed to strain in some of the high notes. Rux's Whizzer and Foster's Trina were tremendously moving. McGowan's Mendel was excellent, Ferraro was astounding as Jason, and Willis and Roberts as the lesbians from next door were both very funny and had amazing voices.

Marlo Hunter's staging lent a dynamic movement and pace without ever sacrificing the events in the piece. Charles Kirby's sets, Hillary Knox's lighting, and Meredith Benson's costumes were a knockout.

Box Score:

Book: 1

Lyrics and Music: 2

Directing: 2

Acting: 2

Sets: 2

Lights: 2

Costumes: 2

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Copyright 2000 Andrés J. Wrath