Non-traditional casting has been getting a workout this summer, thanks to the National Asian-American Theatre Company's staging of William Finn's Falsettoland, at the Vineyard Theatre's Dimson space in Manhattan. The show opened July 16 after starting previews July 9 and, with the help of a strong review in the New York Times, was extended until Aug. 16, with the show changing its contract from Off-Off-to Off-Broadway. (According to a production spokesperson, the show was initially supposed to run to Aug. 18, but the producers thought it didn't make sense to end on a Tuesday, so the previous Sunday was made the final date instead.)
The cast is composed entirely of Asian performers, though director Alan Muraoka is doing the show "without any Asian cultural influences forced on the material."
Such influences might be strange indeed, since Falsettoland revolves around a Jewish boy's Bar Mitzvah. The Asian-American Theatre Company gave a concert performance of Falsettoland Feb. 2 in New York with proceeds to benefit the theatre and this production.
Falsettoland was the third part of Finn's "Marvin" trilogy (In Trousers was part two), which was eventually melded into the Broadway musical Falsettos. The piece tells of an extended family: a man who leaves his family to live with his gay lover, Whizzer. AIDS eventually enters the picture, as does the son's coming of age, the wife's new love interest (Mendel, the psychiatrist), and "the lesbians from next door."
Starring in Falsettoland are Jason Ma, Christine Toy Johnson, Welly Yang, Ann Harada, Kennedy Kanagawa and Mimosa [sic]. For tickets ($15) and information on Falsettoland opening July 16 at the Dimson, 108 East 15th St., call (212) 505-3003.
-- By David Lefkowitz