The Other Palace, London – until 23 November 2019
Despite feeling a little too long and being shrouded in recent drama, the current production of Falsettos at The Other Palace makes it clear why this musical was nominated for five Tony Awards in 2017.
The musical in its current form is based on three one-act musicals which have been fused together by William and James Lapine. It began in 1979 with In Trousers, followed by March of the Falsettos in 1981, and Falsettoland in 1990. In 1992 these were combined to create the show which played on Broadway for over a year and is currently making its UK premiere.
Falsettos begins with the hilarious ‘Four Jews in a Room Bitching’ where we are introduced, as the name suggests, to four Jews and “one half-jew”. Throughout the show we learn about a family as they crumble and put themselves back together. Family patriarch Marvin (Daniel Boys) is falling in love with a charming man, Whizzer (Oliver Savile) and is ready to leave his wife Trina (Laura Pitt-Pulford) and son Jason (Albert Atack). Meanwhile Trina gets closer to her therapist (Joel Montague).PJ McEvoy’s set of blocks which are moved around to form the various locations, are highly effective and just simplistic enough to provide interest without taking away from the emotional songs.
Bright, evocative lighting by Nic Farman is equally entertaining. Although this show does feel a tad too long, with a lot of songs crammed in and not a whole lot of story, there’s no denying that it’s fabulously staged and features an absolutely stellar cast. Pitt-Pulford brings the audience to rapturous applause with her stellar rendition of ‘I’m Breaking Down’.
In fact, this is a cast made up of crystal clear singers with perhaps some of the best placement on the West End. Natasha Barnes and Gemma Knight-Jones brings lightness and power both vocally and physically as the “lesbians next door”, and Oliver Savile also provides many stand out vocal moments.
The entire team acts through song fantastically and truly bring out the best of the work, whilst, Chris Whybrow’s sound design highlights the strong vocal techniques which course through the cast. The show is pretty much sung through, with a variety of rhythms, colours and musical feels. There’s humour and heartbreak and a warm sense of conversation throughout. Intricate but not in-your-face Falsettos is a must-see reminder of human love; and a great example of how moving music can be.