Regional Reviews: Florida - West Coast
My early history with the two one-act musicals that form Falsettos: when the record of March of the Falsettos first came out I dutifully bought it, listened to it once, and could not make heads or tails of it; maybe at some point I listened one more time. Ditto Falsettoland. It wasn't until after the two halves were combined and landed on Broadway in 1992 that I saw it in a touring version, starring Greg Edelman and Steven Bogardus, which blew me away. I have seen it several times since.
Falsettos is not an easy musical. It makes strong vocal demands, which are more than met by this luxury cast featuring many of the area's finest non-professional actors and actresses. Director Scott Keys is the hero of the day, as he stages it brilliantly, the choreographic rhythms beautifully matching Finn's quirky score. He is aided by Ken Junkins' settings, which are perfection. Georgina Willmott's costumes differentiate the two years that pass between the acts, and Michael Pasquini's lighting is yet another major asset. It really makes me very happy to see The Players Centre back in top form.
Mr. Keys has been able to cast from great strength. Ross Boehringer, a favorite of mine who has been away from area stages for a few years, makes a welcome return as Marvin. He is a graduate of Asolo Conservatory and it showsno matter what I have seen him in, he shows he is an exceptional talent. His acting captures the multiple dimensions of the central character, though his singing is not the strongest of the cast. Alana Opie as Marvin's ex-wife Trina knocks it so far out of the ballpark that I think they are still looking for the ball. "Breaking Down" is the showstopper it is intended to be and she wrings all the pathos from "Holding to the Ground" and "Trina's Song." Timarus Foulks is a very strong presence as Whizzer. Imagine my surprise when I overheard that he is 19 years old.
What to do with Alex Zickafoos in this show; he is always an asset but usually plays juvenile leads such as Pippin and Quasimodo in Disney's The Hunchback of Notre Dame. He turns out to be perfect as Mendel, and his scenes with Gabe Tunks as Jason are loaded with chemistry. His singing has always been super solid and is here. "Everyone Hates His Parents" becomes another highlight. Natalia Mock as Charlotte and Shelly Whiteside as Cordelia, the "lesbians from next door," round out the second act cast. These two along with Mr. Boehringer and Mr. Foulks come together for a moving "Unlikely Lovers."
Bruce Ensinger is the music director. The show is sung to tracks and there were a few glitches by the cast at the performance I attended. These did not diminish the audience experience in any way.
This production caused me to lose myself, openly sobbing at Whizzer's death, something that hasn't happened since the very first time I saw Falsettos. If this production were seen at a professional midsized regional theater I would have no problem praising it, the difference between professional and volunteer talent in this area often being miniscule. Bravo to The Players Centre for bringing Falsettos back to this area and in such a fine version.
The Players Centre's Falsettos runs through November 14, 2021, at The Municipal Auditorium, 801 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota FL. For tickets and information visit www.theplayers.org or call 941-365-2494.