FALSETTOS

“We are manipulating people and
we need to know our worst sides
aren’t ignored.”

The first thing you will notice is this huge cube stationed in the middle of the stage. You think to yourself, Are they trying to reinvent the Rubik’s cube? Or, is this some kind of Falsetto puzzle we the audience have to figure out? or “What the hell is that?” Yes, it is a cube and no you don’t have to pull it a part. The actors take the pleasure in dismantling the cube piece by piece and create a space-age home setting, with comfy (at least looking the part) couch and matching end tables. The Tony-award winning play stems from two previous works, March of the Falsettos (Off-Broadway, 1981) and Falsetto land (Off-Broadway, 1990), and it combine them into a wonderful, spectacular collaboration. Who knew that organizing a bar mitzvah would be so time consuming and stressful? Not this non-practicing Catholic! I’m just sayin’! Jason (Thatcher Jacobs kills it in this role!) is nearing 13-years old. That’s the age when a boy becomes a man. Unfortunately, the adults around him are acting like children. His parents Trina and Marvin (Eden Espinosa and Max Von Essen) argue about how to plan the big day for their only child. They’re divorced and Marvin’s hot looking boyfriend Whizzer (Nick Adams) wants to be involved in the decision making process.

The family have their share of happiness and tragedy, just like the rest of us. Transitioning from planning a bar mitzvah to dealing with the aftermath of a loved one dying from AIDS is a huge leap of faith done tactfully well and heart wrenching. Marvin and Whizzer’s love is tested when Whizzer’s health is deteriorated by AIDS. He insists on focusing on Jason’s party which makes him more lovable. Putting his needs last so Jason could have a beautiful bar mitzvah shows true care and support. In the middle of this chaos is therapist Dr. Mendel (Nick Blaemire) who’s treating everyone in Jason’s family. Mendel falls for Trina, who’s trying to get Marvin out her mind and Marvin wants to get Whizzer back. The writers from daytime drama couldn’t dream up this scenario. Let alone figure out how to end it.
Espinosa sounds spectacular and vibrant (“I’m Breaking Down” and “Holding the Ground”). You can hear her soul crying for answers that will mend her frustration. As Trina, she does her best to keep it together, but, we all know that you can’t make it in this world alone. You need help and the best place to start is at home. Whizzer and Dr. Mendel do their best to parent Jason but it’s really Marvin’s job to make sure his child is well-adjusted to his new situation (“Father to Son”) Jason, is no fool. He has that certain charm where he more or less understands the adults are facing but can use his youth as an excuse for not fully understanding. Jacobs does wonderful job as Jason. He is animated, quick-witted and very, very talented. It’s amazing to watch him. He connects with the more seasoned actors like a veteran. Like his mother confided in me afterwards, “it’s all him,” she said beaming with pride.

Photos by Joan Marcus

Falsettos plays Wednesday, (5/1) and Thursday, (5/2) at 8 p.m., Fridays (5/3, 5/10, 5/17) at 8 p.m., Saturdays (5/4, 5/11, 5/18) at 2 and 8 p.m., Sundays, (5/5, 5/12) at 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m., and Sunday (5/19) at 1 p.m. at the Ahmanson Theatre located at 135 N Grand Ave, in Los Angeles. For ticket reservation, visit www.centertheatregroup.org.


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