Songs for a New World (1998)

Music and Lyrics by Jason Robert Brown
Conceived by Daisy Prince
October 30 - November 14, 1998
St. Marcus Theatre, St. Louis

THE CAST
Christopher Brenner
John Rhine
Deborah Sharn
Kimi Short

THE ARTISTIC STAFF
Directors – Scott Miller, Alison Helmer
Music Director – Scott Miller
Lighting Designer – Jamie Brink
Scenic Painter – Heather Bennett
Lighting Technician – Amy Francis Schott
Box Office Manager – Steve Dohrmann
Graphic Design – Tracy Collins

THE BAND
Piano – Scott Miller
Guitar – D. Mike Bauer
Bass – Terry Kippenberger
Percussion – Adam Kopff

THE REVIEWS
Songs for a New World is that very rare beast: an abstract musical. . . Here is a musical that doesn’t try to bombard or cajole you – it simply speaks honestly through fine music and proves that less can most certainly be more. . . Individually, the performers are fine, together they are fabulous, and the harmonies and group singing are uncommonly rich and vibrant. . . The mystical union of song and performance was simply profound at the St. Marcus. . . a true theatrical gem.” – Mike Isaacson, The Riverfront Times

“I'm at a loss as to just what to call this production, except fascinating, engrossing, and totally absorbing. It’s the kind of performance that just cries out to be seen more than once, just to get all the nuances of the lyrics of the songs. Maybe one could call this a musical call to personal reflection, almost a contemporary worship service without dogmatics, but even that might be too limiting a description for such a freewheeling exploration into the human soul.. . The voices of the cast members are all outstanding, and the emotion they put into each piece lifts the presentation from just a bunch of songs into something between poetry and worship. Most of the time the message is a powerful message of hope and faith in a God who knows the future, but sometimes it becomes a picture of the despair that comes when one loses that hope and faith. It is, as you can tell, a complex and fascinating evening you'll be thinking about for a long time to come. Come see the presentation with a friend whose opinion you value, then plan to spend many invigorating hours talking about what you heard on stage.” -- Russ Thomas, KDHX-FM

“Just as personally inspiring for me was watching five local actors pour their hearts and talents into Songs for a New World, another New Line production, featuring the fine songs of Jason Robert Brown. . . making for a truly cherished memory.” – Mike Isaacson, “1998: The Year in Theatre,” The Riverfront Times

DIRECTOR'S NOTES
I didn't love the original cast album of Songs for a New World when I first bought it a couple years ago. I didn't get it. But the more I listened, the more I realized there was so much there worth getting.

Like Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris (which New Line produced in 1997), this is a show that is kind-of a revue, kind-of a song cycle, kind-of a concept musical. It almost dares you to figure it all out. But that's what was so exciting about Jacques Brel, the challenge to direct the show intelligently and clearly enough, and to perform the songs well enough that the audience would be able to understand everything. And it helps that what may be confusing on the CD can be much clearer when the audience can see the performers, see their faces, their body language, costumes, etc.

And yet, even with the help of visual clues, these are not songs that lay out at the beginning everything you need to know. You have to listen. You have to accept that these characters may be distorting the truth, intentionally or not. But when you do listen closely, the rewards are great in this show. When you realize that the woman in “I'm Not Afraid of Anything” has just walked out on her husband, her claims of courage and adventure take on a much darker tint. When you realize that the young woman in “Christmas Lullaby” has just found out she's pregnant (and no doubt completely alone), her sweet lullaby becomes more a bittersweet anthem of determination and a newfound realization of self-worth. When you realize the soldier in “Flying Home” has died in battle, this powerful hymn becomes both sad and joyful.

And what ties all these independent songs into a unified evening of theatre is their one common theme. In every song, someone faces that moment in life when everything is going perfectly and suddenly disaster strikes, in the form of the loss of a job, an unexpected pregnancy, the death of a loved one, the end of a marriage, imprisonment, even suicide. As the opening says:
It's about one moment,
That moment you think you know where you stand.
. . .
But then the earthquake hits,
Then the bank closes in,
Then you realize you didn't know anything.
Nobody told you the best way to steer
When the wind starts to blow.
But it’s even more about surviving those moments. In each song, a character truly finds himself in a “new world,” a world in which the old rules no longer apply, in which everything he thought he knew about life has to be figured out all over again. We've all been there. But we survive.

The finale says, “Hear my song. It was made for the times when you don't know where to go.” And that's what this show is about, to remind us that we all go through these times, and almost always, we come out on the other end still in one piece. We are survivors. And we are never really alone.

REMEMBERING SONGS FOR A NEW WORLD

Performing in Songs For A New World was probably the most terrifying and exciting theatrical experience I've had. At one point in rehearsals my mantra was, “Fear is a motivating factor.” I knew also that I wasn't the only one terrified by the challenges presented in this amazing musical revue by Jason Robert Brown. Scott had his work cut out for him in finding an African-American tenor who could sing to the stars. He did find that in the amazing John Rhine, who floored all of us with his bluesy, sweet gospel sound. For my part in the show I needed to create a German accent, a New York Jewish accent – a distinct character for each song, not to mention having to sing alto for the first time. I'd been spoiled always singing lead. I was up for the challenge. My favorite song to perform was “Surabaya Santa,” a takeoff of the song “Surabaya Johnny.” Perched atop a cabaret chair, in a housecoat and slippers, I was this crazed, alcoholic, sex-starved German-born wife of Santa Claus who suffered badly from North Pole cabin fever and threatened Santa with running off with his elves. My inspiration for the song came from a local stage mother who drinks a wee bit and whose lipstick often runs beyond the lines of her lips. Each night I reveled in performing this song, but I knew that the next time we did the show I would have to wrestle Chris Brenner (my wonderful co-performer) for the song, as he was a perfect candidate for it.
– Deborah Sharn, cast member

One of the hardest mother-f---ing shows I have ever done in my life, but I loved every minute. Normally when you leave the stage after a song, you can rest and regroup and relax a little bit. Not in this show. The music was so difficult that we could not let up for one minute. But I think all the effort was worth it. The saddest part of the show was the lack of audience. I don't think that mattered to the cast – we loved the show, we loved doing the music, and we enjoyed working with each other. I think it was wonderful that the cast got to sing some of that great music at the concert at the Sheldon. An audience finally heard our song.
– Chris Brenner, cast member

(Two weeks into rehearsals for Songs for a New World.)
ALISON: Hey, Scott. What on earth are we gonna do with the song “On the Deck of a Spanish Sailing Ship”?
SCOTT: I don't know... we'll worry about that later.
(Four weeks later)
ALISON: Hey, Scott. What on earth are we gonna do with “On the Deck of a Spanish Sailing Ship”?
SCOTT: I don't know... we'll worry about that later.
(A week and a half before opening night)
ALISON: Hey, Scott. What on earth are we gonna do with “On the Deck of a Spanish Sailing Ship”?
SCOTT: I don't know… we'll worry about that later.
(Final dress rehearsal. “Deck” has just ended, finally staged, and ALISON, who has tears of happiness, joy, and relief in her eyes, turns to SCOTT, who also has tears in his eyes.)
SCOTT: Damn! We're good.
-- Alison Helmer, co-director

I was really sick during Songs for a New World. I had been getting migraines for years, but by November of 1998, I had had one continuous migraine for five months. I didn’t have health insurance, so I hadn’t been to a doctor. The show was one of the hardest I had ever worked on; I had foolishly decided to play the monstrous score for the performances myself, and I was feeling awful. Three nights before opening night, I missed a rehearsal for the second time in my life. I just couldn’t get out of bed. Somehow, I managed to pull myself together and I played every performance, sometimes wondering if I was going to pass out during the next song. Most nights, I went home and straight to bed after the show. The week after we closed, I finally gave in, after not being able to eat for two days. I called my co-director and friend, Alison, at 5:00 a.m. on the Sunday after Thanksgiving and asked her to take me to the emergency room, where they discovered I had blood pressure of 230 over 140. They thought I was going to have a stroke any minute, or that I had just had one. They admitted me and three days later I was fine. I realize now how true that old line is: The show must go on. My body didn’t give out on me until after the show had closed. It knew.
– Scott Miller, director

My first experience with New Line Theatre was seeing Assassins. Because of the quality of performances, I knew I had to work for this theatre company, which led to me to audition for Songs for a New World. I sang an excerpt of “Christmas Lullaby” during the audition, and it was beautiful. I wanted to sing the entire piece and learn its meaning. Deborah Sharn was there to audition as well, and all I could think about was how fantastic it would be to do a show with someone of such high caliber. A week later when Scott Miller called (I had already given up hope) to ask me to do the show, I was ecstatic. I am going to work with Deborah Sharn (who I referred to as the Great Deborah Sharn), this amazing theatre company who put on Assassins, and I get to sing the beautiful song! Does it get any better? It does. The weeks ahead would unfold incredible melodies and harmonies, beautiful songs and stories about people, a level of performance, strength, and inner being I never knew I had, and best of all, a very special friendship to last a lifetime, a unique relationship all our own. Deborah, Chris, John, Scott, Alison, Amy are all in my soul and spirit forever, and we know without words how we are a part of each other every time we meet. From the opening sequence to “Hear My Song” at the end, we took an amazing journey together, each moment as incredible as the next. I wonder what new meanings these stories will take on for me several years from now. Maybe we'll have the privilege to take the journey once again.
– Kimi Short, cast member

Assassins (1998)

Music and Lyrics by
Stephen Sondheim
Book by John Weidman
based on an idea by
Charles Gilbert Jr.
June 12-27, 1998
St. Marcus Theatre, St. Louis

THE CAST
The Balladeer – Dan Sattel
John Wilkes Booth – David Heimann
Charles Guiteau – Tim Schall
Leon Czolgosz – Kevin Collier
Giuseppe Zangara – Gary Cox
Lee Harvey Oswald – Greg Hunsaker
Samuel Byck – Patrick Kerwin
Sara Jane Moore – Cindy Duggan
Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme – Kirstin Kennedy
John Hinckley – Colin DeVaughan
Shooting Gallery Proprietor – Greg Hunsaker
David Herold – Colin DeVaughan
Florida Bystanders – Patrick Kerwin, Rebecca Hunter
Colin DeVaughan, Dan Sattel, Karin Hansen
Emma Goldman – Karin Hansen
Sara Jane Moore's son, Billy – Rebecca Hunter
President Gerald R. Ford – Greg Hunsaker

THE ARTISTIC STAFF
Directors – Scott Miller, Alison Helmer
Lighting Designer – L.D. Lawson
Lighting Technician – Sara Underwood
Props Coordinator – Greg Hunsaker
Costume Coordinator – Quenten Schumacher
Stage Manager – Amy Francis Schott
Graphic Design – Tracy Collins

THE BAND
Piano – Brad C. Hofeditz
Guitar/Banjo/Harmonica – D. Mike Bauer
Trumpet – Paul Hecht
Percussion – Adam Kopff

THE REVIEWS
“For the most part, 1998 was full of supreme performances in solid productions. Looking back, only New Line Theatre’s production of the Stephen Sondheim musical Assassins was, as a whole, a wild and gratifying surprise. Here, a talented group of locals inhabited Sondheim’s creepy vision of what lives under America’s political rocks. It was intense, entertaining, and terrifically ‘out there.’” – Mike Isaacson, “1998: The Year in Theater,” The Riverfront Times

“Intriguing and surprisingly funny. . . The production – a bare-bones, in-the-round presentation – emphasizes the show’s gallows humor and clever lyrics.” – Judith Newmark, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

“There is a rare, exhilarating thrill to be had for the next two weeks in St. Louis. New Line Theatre’s frequently thrilling Assassins sets a new standard for the St. Marcus Theatre, and it easily ranks as one of the finest works ever produced there. The evening is funny, disciplined, scary, intimate and strangely credible. . . The astounding intensity of the cast, and the admirable fact that they never once step ‘outside’ the material or comment on it, but fully dwell in this strange, murky netherworld, must be credited to the co-direction of Scott Miller and Alison Helmer.” – Mike Isaacson, The Riverfront Times

DIRECTOR’S NOTES
Many Americans think the men who declare war are strong.

Decisive.

We applauded George Bush for sending troops to the Persian Gulf. And we hailed the men who actually carried out the killing as heroes and patriots. Many Americans also not only accept but actually defend the act of killing criminals.

But we call John Wilkes Booth a traitor and a madman.

Some murder is okay and some murder is not. The murder of Oswald was okay; the murder of JFK was not.

We now know that Abraham Lincoln desecrated the very foundation of our American government in many ways. It is historical fact that he took powers that were not his to take. He ignored – some would say overthrew – the careful construction of the three branches of government designed to hold each other in check, the structure our Founding Fathers so carefully created to avoid tyranny and corruption. He declared war without the approval of Congress. He threw innocent people into jail in both the North and the South without charges and without trials. Many people hated him, in both the North and the South. They believed he was destroying our country.

And yet we think Booth was crazy for thinking he’d be called a hero for killing Lincoln.
Richard Nixon was not unlike Lincoln in some ways. Nixon also trampled on the Constitution. He also took on powers that were not his. He broke the law. He betrayed America. Some would argue that America has never been the same since.

And we think Sam Byck was crazy because he wanted to kill him.

If Lincoln or Nixon had committed these atrocities, these crimes against their nation in any other country on earth, we would call them dictators, despots, tyrants. Many Americans would call for their destruction, their overthrow, maybe even their assassination.

But because Lincoln was murdered, he is remembered as a hero, and more ironically, as a great president. And we make movies about Nixon.

We’re not making any statements here about slavery, the Civil War, or Watergate. We’re just suggesting that the issues you’ll encounter tonight are not as black and white as you might think. The world is a more complicated place than our stories, textbooks, newspapers, movies, and CNN Headline News would have us believe. (Check out a book called American Assassins: The Darker Side of Politics by James W. Clarke for more on that topic.)

These assassins are not insane. (Okay, except for Guiteau.) The accusations leveled by Booth, Byck, Czolgosz and others are true. We must listen to them, if for no other reason than the simple fact that if we do not learn from history, we are doomed to repeat it.

REMEMBERING ASSASSINS

I played Sam Byck and one of the scenes calls for Byck to be driving a car and eating a hamburger. Because of his anger, he throws the burger out the car window. When we did the performance, it was done in the round, so when I threw out the burger, I threw it out into the audience. I had to make sure that I cleared the heads of the audience. Well, let’s just say, this was not always easy. The first night I did it in rehearsal, I hit one of the cast members in the head! As time went on, I got more proficient and things went off without a hitch until the second week of performances. Because we had sold out shows, Scott decided to add some extra seats at the last minute and added them along the wall at which I usually threw the burger. I didn't know until the show started that he had added the seats. The whole time before the scene, I was thinking about where I was going to throw the burger without hitting anyone. I thought I had found a place; however, people decided to move their seats during the performance. I did the scene and threw the burger and didn't think anymore about it. As we came out after the show, a person came up to me and said, “Hey, here is your hamburger. You threw it right in my lap!”
-- Patrick Kerwin, “Sam Byck”

This is such an awesome show. I was lucky enough to be a part of it both times New Line performed this extraordinary work of Sondheim’s, as Zangara the first time and as the Balladeer the second time. I thought doing it in the round really added to the intimacy and in-your-face nature of the show and helped us achieve something that I believe Sondheim would have been proud of. These were some highlights for me: the duet between Kirsten Kennedy and Colin DeVaughan on “Unworthy of Your Love.” It was beautiful each and every night. Kevin Collier's Czolgosz. Kevin's performance really coooooooked and he has since secured his place in my mind as the epitome of a scary, angry Russian man. (Ivan Drago eat your heart out!) Gary Cox as Zangara. Gary makes more faces on stage than anyone I know. He is so much fun to watch if only to see what his face is going to do!
– Dan Sattel, “Balladeer”

I played Sara Jane Moore, the part that will live in infamy. I loved doing that role, though there is one particular scene that is an actor's nightmare. It includes eating, drinking, smoking, guns and voluminous props – all while talking of course – and one night the seat split open on my real 1970s pants when I sat down. Luckily I had on a long 70s vest which covered the split – which was lucky because the theatre was so hot that none of us wore underwear. Also, the show’s publicity picture of me eating Kentucky Fried Chicken and drinking the Tab soda was literally splattered in every newspaper in town for weeks until everyone was sick of looking at it! However, every place I go, even now, someone will come up and say, “Wow, you were so good in Assassins!” – sometimes people I don't even know. Occasionally, our esteemed director, Scott Miller , is present when this happens, and he says, “Gee, that's great, but there were other people in the show too!”
– Cindy Duggan, “Sara Jane Moore”

My character, Sam Byck, has two monologues during the show, one of them while sitting on a park bench, having lunch and making tape recordings to send to important people so they can hear his message. While I know that many people tell stories of people talking in the audience, I got my first real taste of it during the first week of performances. There was an older gentleman who I think was a bit hard of hearing who thought that my character was really funny. However, he also had a hard time hearing some of what I was saying, since we were doing the show in the round and at times I was not looking at him while doing my lines. During the whole monologue, I could hear the guy making very loud statements like “That guy is really funny,” “He is right about that,” and “Oh, my, that is good.” However, when he couldn't hear me, he kept asking his wife “What did he say?” Eventually, because he was talking so loud, people started to laugh at him and were whispering about The Loud Guy. I kept going and didn't forget too many of my lines, but I will never forget trying to compete with the audience member for attention.
-- Patrick Kerwin, “Sam Byck”

My favorite moment in the show was one I created. It may be the moment I’m most proud of in any show I’ve done. The second to last scene finds all the assassins from all times coming together in the Texas Book Depository to convince Oswald to shoot Kennedy – truly chilling stuff. Then when Oswald pulls the trigger, there’s an instrumental segue in the style of Aaron Copland’s music, and it segues directly into the finale, “Everybody’s Got the Right to Be Happy.” My addition was that during the instrumental segue, I sent each assassin out into the audience. I told them each to pick two or three people and tell those people – quietly, privately, intimately – why they had to kill the president. I told the actors they could use lines from the show or make things up, but to really try to convince the audience. I wanted everyone in the audience to be experiencing something different at this moment, hearing only one or two actors, wondering what the others were saying. Every night, the audience was mesmerized, their eyes glued to the assassin nearest them, hanging on every word. And every night, the last one to finish was Tim Schall as Guiteau, one of the truly insane assassins. And the last words that rang in the air before the finale were Guiteau quietly hissing “I did it for you! I did it for you!” It was the most disturbing moment I’ve ever created in the theatre.
-- Scott Miller, director

Woman with Pocketbook (1998)

Winner of New Line Theatre's
1998 One-Act Musical Competition

Music by Jeff Blumenkrantz
Book and Lyrics by
Annie Kessler and Libby Saines
March 6-14, 1998
St. Marcus Theatre, St. Louis

THE CAST
Doris – Angie (Shultz) Reinert
Dave – Tim Schall
Helen – Cindy Duggan
God – John Ricroft
Angel – Marian Holtz
Angel – Sherry Ingmire
Angel – Mo Monahan
Angel – Renee Sevier

THE ARTISTIC STAFF
Directors – Scott Miller and Alison Helmer
Assistant Director – T. Joseph Reinert
Choreographer – J.T. Ricroft
Set Designer – Scott Miller
Lighting Designer – L.D. Lawson
Lighting Technician – Sara Underwood
Pocketbook Set Pieces – Jack Helmer
Graphic Design – Tracy Collins

THE BAND
Piano – Scott Miller
Percussion – Adam Kopff

THE REVIEWS
“The music by Jeff Blumenkrantz is pleasant, and the lyrics by Annie Kessler and Libby Saines are often very clever. With appealing performances from the New Line cast, Woman with Pocketbook adds up to an engaging curtain-raiser [to March of the Falsettos].” – Gerry Kowarsky, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

“The cast treats this new material well, with really strong comic performances.” – Bob Wilcox, The Riverfront Times

DIRECTOR’S NOTES
The second half of our evening is a wonderfully whimsical romp through some other compelling issues. New Line held a competition last year for new one-act musicals, a fascinating but almost non-existent genre. Of the twenty-eight shows submitted, Woman with Pocketbook was by far the most interesting and the most fun. In this society that values individual liberties as highly as we do, this show asks some interesting questions. What happens when our concept of individual freedom meets the rigid strictures of religion? How much room is there for individual choice in organized religion's view of God and heaven? And, more to the point, is a moral act truly moral if a person is forced into it?

Both Woman with Pocketbook and March of the Falsettos [the other half of this evening of one-act musicals] are extremely funny and extremely irreverent. Both shows ask some tough questions and leave it to us to sort through the answers, to draw conclusions about love, relationships, family, and God.

And after all, isn't that what theatre does best?

REMEMBERING WOMAN WITH POCKETBOOK
In the spring of 1998, I received a call from a cast member of New Line’s Woman with Pocketbook. They needed an extra Angel and thought of me. It was my first experience at New Line and I was thrilled to be asked, but wasn’t sure what I got myself into. I found out that this Scott Miller guy really isn’t dealing with a full deck. I liked that about him, but he was asking the impossible from his “Angels.” The libretto called for numerous songs of different languages, one verse in Spanish, one verse in Italian, one in Russian, you name it. I was never sure if it was fake or not. Actually, I was never sure of the lyrics! But I wasn’t alone. Angels can be smart. When we didn’t know a line we would look at one another in the hopes somebody would. We each knew certain sections of the foreign lyrics, and among all of us, we could cover them and everybody thought we actually knew what we were doing.
– Mo Monahan, “Angel”

When I heard about this show and found out that Scott was looking for a “crooner,” I knew I had to be a part of it. Besides, how many other chances would I get to play GOD (typecasting of course), especially a God who drinks martinis and smokes cigarettes. Kind of a mix between Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Michael Landon from Highway to Heaven. I remember we pondered hard over “What would God wear?” We had discussion after discussion, and then resolved ourselves to taking the most honest way out. A bright red jacket and black slacks! (Yeah, Scott wanted to take the traditional way, as usual.) Well, the reviews came out and there was hell to pay (pah-dum pah). It seemed that the St. Louis theatre- going public didn't want to see God portrayed in this manner, or at least a few reviewers didn't think it was in good taste. In either case, we gave people things to talk about, which is the whole purpose, right? I was glad that some got the joke and went beyond it to get the meaning and the meat of the production. When you die, you don't get to take the “stuff.” In the last moments, the only thing that matters is what you have on the inside and not what you have in your pocketbook. It was a relief to know that so many people already knew that.
– John Ricroft, “God,” choreographer

It is not often you get the chance to appear in the world premiere of a musical. I found myself as a twenty-four-year-old cast in the role of a sixty-year-old Jewish woman from Brooklyn, but I was so excited to be the lead! I was also terrified to try any accent on the stage, and Scott must have yelled out pronunciations from the piano at me a billion times in rehearsal. When we opened, the show seemed to really connect with many in the audience. It was rewarding to have so many people tell me I reminded them of their mother, their favorite aunt, their crabby neighbor, etc. My gestures onstage and in life became more deliberate, and I learned to stand my ground. Some may consider picking up characteristics of your role as unhealthy, but if you knew Doris, you wouldn't say that. She'd eat you alive.
– Angie Shultz

March of the Falsettos (1998)

Book, music, and lyrics by William Finn
March 6-14, 1998
St. Marcus Theatre, St. Louis

THE CAST
Marvin – Jim Merlo
Whizzer – Chris Brenner
Trina – Deborah Sharn
Mendel – Tim Schall
Jason – Peter Merideth

THE ARTISTIC STAFF
Directors – Scott Miller and Alison Helmer
Assistant Director – T. Joseph Reinert
Choreographer – J.T. Ricroft
Set Designer – Scott Miller
Lighting Designer – L.D. Lawson
Lighting Technician – Sara Underwood
Falsettos Set Pieces – Mark Aeling, MGA Studio
Graphic Design – Tracy Collins

THE BAND
Piano – Scott Miller
Percussion – Adam Kopff

THE REVIEWS
“New Line Theatre’s current production of Falsettos may be the best work this company has done. . . Scott Miller and Alison Helmer direct a tight, inventive show with imaginative use of expressionistic images.” – Box Wilcox, The Riverfront Times

“Angry, challenging work . . . the New Line performers point up the conflicts within the characters as well as between them.” – Gerry Kowarsky, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

DIRECTOR’S NOTES
William Finn wrote three one-act musicals about a character (an alter-ego?) named Marvin: In Trousers, March of the Falsettos, and Falsettoland. Later, he and James Lapine combined the second and third chapters into a full-length musical called Falsettos, which enjoyed a healthy run on Broadway. So everybody keeps asking me why we're doing just March of the Falsettos.

When the two one-acts were combined into one full-length show, they were altered, lyrics changed, things added and deleted, to make this new show more unified, more thematically consistent. So the first half of Falsettos became something very different from the one-act March of the Falsettos. In the full-length show, both acts are about Marvin and the development of his relationship with his lover Whizzer. The conflict is about whether or not Marvin and Whizzer can build a life together without killing each other first.

But the one-act March of the Falsettos is about Marvin and his son Jason. In fact, Jason is the heart of March, a boy who needs his father to guide him toward manhood and yet who fears becoming who his father is. The question here is not whether Marvin and Whizzer can stay together. In March, Marvin can't sustain relationships with Whizzer, his wife Trina, or his psychiatrist Mendel. Marvin's only salvation is in sustaining his relationship with his son. The one-act isn't about romance; it's about Marvin growing up enough to help Jason grow up. The title of March of the Falsettos refers to the journey from childhood, when a boy's voice is soprano, to adulthood, when his voice changes and he becomes a man.

Personally, I think March of the Falsettos is a more interesting show, a less conventional musical, a show about deeper, more complicated issues, a show that still deserves to be seen in its original form.

REMEMBERING MARCH OF THE FALSETTOS

I got to work with an incredible cast. Deborah Sharn, whom I had seen in other productions…I was finally going to work with her! I thought at the time: she is a diva goddess. (I do mean that in the good diva sense . . . are you a good diva or a bad diva?) Then I found out she truly is as wonderful off stage as she is on. I am very thankful to have a rich friendship with her now. Jim Merlo makes everyone look great. He is in the wrong profession. (Deborah and I enjoyed the kisses as much as you, Jim.) I would watch from the wings in amazement of his acting and characterization. He made every character come to life. For me it was the first time I really understood how a song can advance a plot, how to act a song and get to the inner meaning of the lyrics. The whole cast was wonderful to work with and I will never forget them.
– Chris Brenner, “Whizzer Brown”