March of the Falsettos (1998)

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

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

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

Piano – Scott Miller
Percussion – Adam Kopff

“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

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.


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”

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