William Finn Revue, Make Me a Song, to Close Dec. 30

News   William Finn Revue, Make Me a Song, to Close Dec. 30 Make Me a Song, the acclaimed revue of William Finn songs, will play its final performance at New World Stages, Stage 5, Dec. 30. When it closes, the production will have played 14 previews and 55 regular performances.
Front: Sandy Binion and Adam Heller; Back: D.B. Bonds and Sally Wilfert
Front: Sandy Binion and Adam Heller; Back: D.B. Bonds and Sally Wilfert Photo by Carol Rosegg

Songs from Finn's Falsettos, A New Brain, The Royal Family of Broadway, Elegies: A Song Cycle and more are heard in the four-actor, one-pianist revue, which was constructed and directed by Rob Ruggiero. Previews for Make Me a Song: The Music of William Finn began at New World Stages on Oct. 30; the production officially opened Nov. 12.

A London production and U.S. concert tour are in the works, according to a press notice. The Lincoln Center Archive will film the Off-Broadway production Dec. 18.

Make Me a Song was seen in a popular 2006 presentation at TheaterWorks in Hartford, CT, where Ruggiero is associate artistic director.

The revue was revised and refined after its Connecticut run. Ruggiero added one new cast member and a new pianist, for starters, but he also revamped the Falsettos section of this catalog show and added and subtracted musical numbers since 2006.

The musical — promising to "tell personal, haunting, and often hilarious tales from Finn's rich and touching human songbook" — is now a swift 90 minutes rather than two acts. In eliminating the intermission, the thinking was: why interrupt the fizzing energy of a unique voice? New to the cast of four singer-actors is D.B. Bonds, who joined holdovers Sandy Binion, Adam Heller and Sally Wilfert.

The foursome (and singing pianist-musical director Darren R. Cohen) bite into fan favorites, obscurities and trunk tunes. Michael Morris is music supervisor.

Finn is the two–time Tony Award winner for the groundbreaking musical Falsettos, and is currently represented on Broadway with The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (which will close in January 2008, the producers recently announced; the tour continues). Make Me a Song features classics from these shows as well as selections from Romance in Hard Times, Elegies and the yet-to-be-produced The Royal Family of Broadway, now apparently a shelved show.

"What gives me unending pleasure, infinite joy," Finn once said, "is a well made song."

In the Playbill for Make Me a Song, he writes, "I think that what music and great lyrics can do is make life richer. You take a moment from life and you don't know it's great, you don't know it's as special as it is. Then you hear it sung and all of a sudden you have goose bumps and everything seems to have changed and the world seems different."

The song list of Make Me a Song includes "Mister, Make Me a Song" (a song written for Mandy Patinkin for an intended Finn evening); "Heart and Music" (from A New Brain); "Hitchhiking Across America" (written for a proposed musical about thumbing it across the U.S.); "Republicans" (recurring comic pieces, written "either during Reagan's last term or Bush Senior's only term," now laced throughout the show and sung by the Finn persona on stage, Adam Heller); "Billy's Law of Genetics" (from A New Brain, with an arrangement by Jason Robert Brown); Passover (written for Elegies: A Song Cycle); "Only One" (inspired by teachers of Finn, about from Elegies); "I'd Rather Be Sailing"/"Set Those Sails" (from A New Brain and In Trousers, respectively); "Change" (from A New Brain); "I Have Found" (from the unproduced musical, The Royal Family of Broadway); "You're Even Better Than You Think You Are" (written for a show — Songs of Innocence and Experience — to honor a new theatre built on the campus of Finn's alma mater, Williams College); "All Fall Down" (heard in both America Kicks Up Its Heels and Romance in Hard Times); "Stupid Things I Won't Do" (from The Royal Family of Broadway, penned for Elaine Stritch, who appeared in a developmental reading); "That's Enough for Me" (from Romance in Hard Times); "I Went Fishing With My Dad" (written while Finn was penning Songs of Innocence and Experience); "When the Earth Stopped Turning" (a personal song of loss); "Anytime" (written at request of Finn's dying friend, Monica Andress, for her funeral).

The show's Falsettos suite includes "Four Jews in a Room Bitching," "A Tight-Knit Family," "Love Is Blind," "My Father Is a Homo," "Trina's Song," "March of the Falsettos," "The Year of the Child," "The Baseball Game," "Unlikely Lovers," "Falsettoland." The vocal arrangements for the suite are by Michael Starobin, Carmel Dean and Michael Morris.

Ghostlight Records recorded the show's cast album Dec. 1 and 2. The recording, due in January 2008, is being produced by Grammy-winning producer Joel Moss and Sh-K-Boom/Ghostlight Records president Kurt Deutsch.

Make Me a Song is produced by Junkyard Dog Productions (Randy Adams, Sue Frost, Kenny Alhadeff), Larry Hirschhorn, Jayson Raitt, Stacey Mindich, Jamie deRoy/Eric Falkenstein, in association with Nick Demos/Francine Bizar, Bob Eckert, Impresario's Choice on Broadway, Eileen T'Kaye, Barbara Manochherian/Remmel T. Dickinson.

The creative team includes Luke Hegel-Cantarella (set designer), Alejo Vietti (costume designer), John Lasiter (lighting designer) and Zachary Williamson (sound designer). Cambra Overend is production stage manager.

Performances of Make Me a Song play Monday-Wednesday at 8 PM, Friday at 9 PM, Saturday at 5 PM and 9 PM, Sunday at 3 PM and 7 PM. Tickets range $26.50-$71.50. Tickets can be purchased by calling Telecharge at (212) 239-6200, or online at Telecharge.com, or in person at New World Stages at 340 W. 50th Street between Eighth and Ninth Avenues.

For more information, visit www.makemeasongthemusical.com.

Sandy Binion, Darren R. Cohen, D.B. Bonds, Sally Wilfert, Adam Heller in <i>Make Me a Song</i>.
Sandy Binion, Darren R. Cohen, D.B. Bonds, Sally Wilfert, Adam Heller in Make Me a Song. Photo by Carol Rosegg