To inaugurate its new $27 million facility, which features two performance venues, PH invited back creators and cast members of shows launched at the not-for-profit: March of the Falsettos and Falsettoland (which was later honed for Broadway as Falsettos, the form it takes this weekend), Jeanine Tesori and Brian Crawley's Violet (Jan. 16-19), Adam Guettel and Tina Landau's Floyd Collins (Jan. 23-26) and Christopher Durang's comic play, Laughing Wild (Jan. 30-Feb. 2).
(From the outside, the Playwrights Horizons construction doesn't look complete, but a spokesman said Jan. 9 the theatres are ready and PH has received all the necessary certification from the city. Rehearsals have been ongoing this week and the final dress was scheduled for 2 PM Jan. 9. Cosmetic work and additional detailing on the building will take place the rest of the month.)
Falsettos is composer-librettist-lyricist William Finn and librettist-director James Lapine's Tony Award winning musical that was originally produced separately by Off-Broadway's PH as March of the Falsettos in 1981 and Falsettoland in 1990. The combined version played Broadway in 1992, and begat a tour.
Lonny Price directs a cast that includes original cast members Michael Rupert (Marvin 1981, 1990 and 1992), Chip Zien (Mendel 1981, 1990 and 1992), Alison Fraser (Trina 1981), Faith Prince (Trina 1990), Heather MacRae (Charlotte 1990 and 1992) and Janet Metz (Cordelia 1990). For the concerts, Fraser will play Trina in March of the Falsettos (Act One) and Prince will play Trina in Falsettoland (Act Two), as originally premiered. Stephen Bogardus, the musicals' original Whizzer (1981, 1990 and 1992), is unable to perform due to his commitment to Man of La Mancha; instead, Jonathan Dokuchitz (previously seen at Playwrights Horizons in The Bubbly Black Girl Sheds Her Chameleon Skin) will play Whizzer in the concert. Jesse Nathanson Greenwald will play Jason.
The musical is unlike any other contemporary show in that it's a jazzy, twitchy sung-through journey of neurotic New Yorkers dealing with all the desires, selfishness, expectations and identity issues that come with human relationships, all in the context of one of history's plagues. By the time Finn had penned the second half of the story, the AIDS crisis was decimating the gay community — the show's major plot point has Marvin leaving his wife and son for a gay lover — and the epidemic was woven into the story. Many fans point to the show as offering Finn's strongest score. Finn, who also wrote In Trousers, another chapter of the so-called Marvin trilogy, won the 1992 Tony Award for Best Score and shared the Tony with Lapine for Best Book of a Musical, both for Falsettos. They later collaborated on A New Brain.
The score of the combined and refined Broadway piece never got a cast album, but the two Off-Broadway halves were recorded separately by DRG Records. Songs from the show(s) include "The Baseball Game," "I Never Wanted to Love You," "Holding to the Ground," "Something Bad is Happening," "Four Jews in a Room Bitching," "Days Like This," "Unlikely Lovers," "Trina's Song," "What Would I Do?," "My Father's a Homo," "March of the Falsettos," "Making a Home," "Chess Game," "Father to Son," and more.
The musicals of the PH concert series — Falsettos, Violet and Floyd Collins — will be presented in the company’s 198-seat mainstage theatre, with six performances each on three successive weekends beginning Jan. 9. Laughing Wild will be seen in four performances on the company's more intimate 96 seat Peter Jay Sharp Theater, starting Jan. 30 (a change from the initial announcement).
Here are details about the subsequent shows:
Laughing Wild, the 1987 comedy written and directed by Christopher Durang, will feature original cast Durang and E. Katherine Kerr, Jan. 30-Feb. 1. The work premiere at PH's Studio Theater in October 1987 and plays the new Peter Sharp Theater. PH artistic director Tim Sanford noted that PH's tradition of musicals on its mainstage will be carried through when the theatre presents My Life With Albertine, by Richard Nelson and Ricky Ian Gordon, as its inaugural full production in February.
There are limited seats still available for the Jan. 26 benefit performance of Floyd Collins. There are also limited tickets available for Violet; the other shows are sold out.
For more Playwrights Horizons information, call Ticket Central at (212) 279-4200 or visit www.playwrightshorizons.org.
Playwrights Horizons new home is at 416 W. 42nd Street (the site of its former space). The new PH HQ features two theatres (a 198-seat mainstage and a 96-seat studio), a large main lobby, two rehearsal spaces, offices for artistic, production and administrative staff and the Ticket Central box office.