Thursday, July 13, 2017

Third Time's a Charm

Closing Night Bows
I've been pretty open about my affection for Falsettos and its cast.  It is undoubtedly one of the best shows I've ever seen and will always have a special place in my heart.  From its cast to its set to its message of love, acceptance and family, it is perfect from beginning to end. Since it closed back in January, I've been mourning it pretty hard, by listening to its cast album endlessly.  But last night, I finally had the chance to see it again.  This time, at the movie theater, thanks to Lincoln Center Live's phenomenal choice to record it.

I'll go on record as saying that nothing will ever beat live theatre, however I really, really enjoyed seeing this particular show in this context.  To start off, this cast is still incredible.  I can't say I've ever seen a cast gel so well on stage before, and this melding of minds and talent definitely translates flawlessly to the screen.  They looked and sounded great on a big screen and in surround sound.  

But my favorite part was having the chance to see what I couldn't see live.  I didn't have fantastic seats the two times I saw it, however they weren't terrible.  I was in the orchestra both times, so I had a decent view of the entire stage.  However, thanks to the use of close-ups in the filmed version, I picked up on all sorts of little facial expressions and reactions I missed seeing live.  

That's the glory of seeing a production like this.  While live is still best, through movie magic you're able to really see small choices the actors are making.  These choices make the production much fuller and more nuanced.  After a while, it became a bit of a game for me to pick up on these micro-expressions.  Some of my favorites were:

~ In a "A Tight Knit Family", Whizzer is actually questioning Marvin about the Hepatitis he's just realized Marvin may have.  I've listened to that song dozens of times, but always thought it was just harmony.  Thanks to the look on Andrew Rannell's face, that line is much funnier now.

~ Charlotte never really eats Cordelia's food.  She spits it out when it's given to her, and tries to warn the others silently about how terrible it is.  In the end, it now makes so much more sense when she's shocked by how good the food actually is.  And in this same scene, Trina's discomfort, when Charlotte and Cordelia kiss is a truly funny and almost missed piece of comedy thanks to Stephanie J. Block.

~ After Marvin hits Trina, instead of just looking shocked by what he's done, Marvin tries to apologize quietly but is cut off by Mendel.  I didn't pick that up the first 2 times seeing, but thanks to better recording devices, you can hear a little of what Christian Borle is saying. (Also, on the big screen, you are still mesmerized at how amazing an actor he really is - not a surprise but I thought I'd mention.)

~ During "Falsettoland/About Time" Marvin collapses the entire set.  That never made sense to me.  However, thanks to a well-timed closeup, I realized it's because Whizzer was sitting at the end and he's still angry at/in love with him.

~ And then, the moment that really hit me hard was in "Days Like This" when Jason brings the Chess game to Whizzer.  Whizzer tears up and gets defensive when Jason tells him "I'll let you win, Whizzer." It's a terribly hard scene to watch anyway, but tears make everything harder.  Andrew Rannells and Anthony Rosenthal really knocked it out of the park!

As you can see, I may have analyzed a bit too hard, but this particular recording was just so good, it was hard not to.  Of course, there was one thing that could have been handled a bit better - the use of language.  I understand that some words needed to be changed to get past the PBS sensors, however, some changes were just odd, and I'm sure they were cumbersome for the actors to memorize.  But I do admit, if you haven't heard the music before, they do make sense in context, musically and lyrically.

So there you have it, my overly gushing review of a beautiful show.  Even after seeing it like this, I'm still itching for October to roll around so I can see it on PBS as well. Bravo to everyone involved!  You really nailed it and we're so thankful for that! 

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