Review: Falsettos by Available Light Theatre

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

“Falsettos,” the heartbreaking musical by William Finn and James Lapine, has not changed since its national tour played the Palace Theatre in 1993 or since Reality Theatre staged it here in 1996. What’s changed is the world.

Available Light Theatre’s superb production comes at a time when HIV/AIDS no longer means a death sentence and a time of increasing recognition of the diversity of family types. Under John Dranschak’s direction, this “Falsettos” tells its simple story of love, devotion, friendship and family with articulate briskness. Music director Pam Welsh-Huggins and her “teeny tiny band” navigate Finn’s lyrical and rhythmic twists and turns with dexterity.

Scott Wilson plays Marvin, who has left his wife, Trina (Kim Garrison Hopcraft), and son, Jason (Adam Crawford), for the delightful yet spiteful heel, Whizzer (Christopher Storer). Trina takes up with the family’s psychiatrist, Mendel (Nick Lingnofski). Later, when it’s time to plan Jason’s bar mitzvah, this “tight-knit family” expands to include lesbian neighbors, kosher caterer Cordelia (Kate Gersing) and doctor Charlotte (Danielle Mann), just discovering that “Something Bad is Happening” as a yet-unnamed virus begins to spread.

Exhilarating highlights include Hopcraft’s emotionally mercurial “I’m Breaking Down,” Crawford and Lingnofski’s soft shoe rendering of “Everyone Hates His Parents,” and the two gay couples harmonizing in “Unlikely Lovers.”

“Falsettos” proves that last year’s “Merrily We Roll Along” from Available Light was no fluke. No other Central Ohio theater company takes the chances that Available Light does. And no other company makes chances pay off as spectacularly.

Riffe Center, Studio One Theatre

Through Oct. 1

77 S. High St., Downtown