Here’s a little piece of history. It’s Frank Rich’s original review of the Broadway debut of Falsettos. Mr. Rich is now well-known as a cultural commentator for the New York Times, but in 1992, he was a passionate advocate of forward-thinking shows like this one.
It’s a fine piece of writing, but more importantly it really helps to bring to mind the context in which the play was created. It wasn’t that long ago, but in many ways, it was a very different world.
Falsettos; Broadway Boundary Falls Amid Reunions
By FRANK RICH
Published: April 30, 1992, Thursday
Last night’s opening of William Finn’s exhilarating and heartbreaking musical “Falsettos” at the John Golden Theater marked the official end of the Broadway season, and what more perfect end to this season could there be? In a theater year marked by signs of an American musical renaissance on Broadway and an explosion of American playwriting off Broadway, “Falsettos” is a show in which the boundary separating Off Broadway and Broadway is obliterated, a show in which the most stylish avatars of the new American musical embrace the same thorny urban landscape of embattled men and women to be found in so many new American plays.
The evening also brings this highly charged season to a close with the charged emotions of an eagerly awaited reunion. “Falsettos” is the seamless merging of two one-act musicals, “March of the Falsettos” and “Falsettoland,” that were produced individually in 1981 and 1990. All three original leading men — Michael Rupert, Stephen Bogardus and Chip Zien — are back, as is the original director, James Lapine (who is also co-author of the book). A lot has happened to them since they and “Falsettos” first came together. A lot has happened to the audience. Like any reunion worth attending, this one tempers its feelings of joy with those of deep loss. The wave of euphoria “Falsettos” evokes is inseparable from the wave of tears that rises audibly through the house once Mr. Finn raises the ghosts of those Falsettoland loved ones no longer here to join the party.