All tagged Barbara Walsh

Remembering Big

Movies have long been the inspiration for Broadway musicals. It is easy to say that this is a recent trend, but that simply is not so. Just as there have been many musicals that have taken their inspiration from plays, books, and historical events, there have been musicals that draw from cinema (from the 50’s on, anyway). In the 1990s, the trend toward adapting films for the musical stage seemed to gain even more traction, and by the turn of the century, everywhere you looked on Broadway you could find movies reimagined for the stage.

Falsettos: Still Holding to the Ground

With the recently-confirmed Lincoln Center revival of Falsettos set to bow at the Walter Kerr Theatre this October, and with original director and librettist James Lapine (once again) at the helm of this William Finn masterpiece, it is interesting to look at how the world has changed in the 23 years since its original Broadway production. Is Falsettos as relevant today as it was back in the early 1990s? This story of a gay man named Marvin who leaves his wife and son for a male lover, and then loses him to a spectral illness that is presumably AIDS, was cutting edge and timely musical theatre for 1992, but does that translate for contemporary American audiences where gay marriage is now arguably a societal norm and AIDS, despite its continued threat, has somehow become a marginalized disease that doesn’t inspire quite the same fear? The answer is an astounding yes, but for very different reasons than in 1992.

"Holding to the the Ground" - My Heart Is Breaking

In the early 1990s, this country was in a suffocating fear of the AIDS epidemic, with treatments only beginning to show possibilities of success and certainly no signs of eradicating this plague on the horizon. Here we are twenty-plus years later and we still haven't found a cure, but have found ways to help people live much longer with the dread disease. It was composer/lyricist William Finn who first successfully captured the fear of the unknown surrounding AIDS and brought it to the musical stage. Finn's 1981 musical March of the Falsettos, a highly neurotic tale about a Jewish gay man named Marvin who tries to juggle his wife, his son, his lover, and his psychiatrist as he explores his own sexuality, set the stage for continuing the tale into the AIDS crisis with the 1990 musical Falsettoland. Picking up where March of the Falsettos left off, this sequel explored the devastation the family experienced when they found out Marvin's lover Whizzer is diagnosed with a mysterious illness that we can only assume is the dreaded AIDS. Though it is never specifically identified as such, all of the indications are there.