The Tony Award–winning 1992 musical Falsettos, about a man who leaves his wife and son for another man who in turn eventually dies of AIDS complications, is now in previews on Broadway.
Starring Andrew Rannells (The Book of Mormon, Girls), Christian Borle (Something Rotten) and Stephanie J. Block (The Mystery of Edwin Drood), the musical is directed by James Lapine, who directed and cowrote the original with William Finn. It opens Oct. 27.
The musical was originally two separate one-act shows. The first, March of the Falsettos, which opened in 1981 and is set in 1979, deals with the neurotic Jewish New Yorker Marvin (Borle) as he leaves his wife and son for a male lover named Whizzer (Rannells). The second show was the 1990 off-Broadway Falsettoland, which catches up with the same characters a few years later, as Whizzer is dying of AIDS-related illness. The two shows were combined in 1992 and played on Broadway as Falsettos.
In an Out magazine profile on the revival, Lapine recalls a friend bringing an infectious-disease doctor to March of the Falsettos in 1981. “I asked him, ‘What is this gay cancer thing I’m reading about?’ Ten years later we knew we had to write a second act about it,” Lapine says. “It’s very hard to explain to people what that time was like, particularly in the theater, where we lost so many, and in New York. It was really, deeply scary. The stigmatization of it all was just awful. I’m glad to be revisiting that, in a way.”
Meanwhile, Finn, who wrote the show’s music and lyrics, worries about how Falsettos will play in 2016. “It’s a different world we live in now,” he tells Playbill, “so I wonder how it’s going to be received. I don’t even know if the show evinces the horribleness of the times because it’s talking about family and a lot of other things—in a world that is being devoured by AIDS.”
For tickets, interviews with the cast and more, click here.