P.A.C.E. presents 'Falsettos' at Academy of Music Theatre

Date: 4/28/2009

EASTHAMPTON - P.A.C.E./Pioneer Arts Center of Easthampton presents the musical "Falsettos," with music and lyrics by William Finn and book by Finn and James Lapine for six performances May 1 through 3 and May 8 through 10 at the Academy of Music Theatre in Northampton. Friday and Saturday evening performances are at 8 p.m.; Sunday matinee performances are at 2 p.m.

"Falsettos" is directed by David Fried Oppenheim. The musical director is Marnen Laibow-Koser and musical staging is by Joseph Rich. Vocal coaching is by Dan Inglis.

"Falsettos" is two one-act musical tragicomedies from "The Marvin Trilogy" by William Finn with James Lapine. The first one-act, "March of the Falsettos," opened off-Broadway in the 1980-81 season. The second, "Falsettoland" (where Lapine collaborated), opened off-Broadway a decade later. They were combined into one evening at Hartford Stage; that revision, with a different cast and director, moved to Broadway in 1992, where the musical won two Tony Awards. It ran on Broadway for over 480 performances and toured nationally.

Composer/lyricist William Finn grew up in Natick, Mass., and majored in music at Williams College. In addition to "Falsettos," he's known for his autobiographical musical "A New Brain" (about a man's dealing with a brain tumor); the Tony Award-winning "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee" (which premiered at Barrington Stage in the Berkshires); his "Elegies: A Song Cycle," commemorating lost friends and loved ones, performed at Lincoln Center with Betty Buckley; "Make Me A Song," a revue of his music which launched at TheaterWorks in Hartford.

Collaborator James Lapine, a frequent theatre partner with Finn, won the Pulitzer Prize for "Sunday in the Park with George," his collaboration with Stephen Sondheim. Lapine won Tony Awards for that production, his other Sondheim musical "Passion," and "Falsettos."

Both tragicomic musicals in "Falsettos" deal with the same characters: Marvin, a gay Jewish man (played by Michael Holt of Westfield); his ex-wife, Trina (played by Nikki Wadleigh of Holyoke); their pre-teen son, Jason (played by Noah Loving of Amherst, with Sam Lev of Florence as understudy); Mendel, the family therapist (played by Ed Ryan of Westhampton), Marvin's lover Whizzer (played by Andrew Gilbert of Springfield); and Dr. Charlotte and Cordelia, the lesbians next door (played by Stephanie Devine of Springfield and Rebecca Rose-Langston of Florence). Marvin and his unconventional extended family and friends are planning Jason's bar mitzvah as Whizzer deals with HIV/AIDS (which is never mentioned by name in "Falsettos").

Tickets, priced from $20 to $40, are currently on sale at Pride & Joy, Crafts Avenue, Northampton, and PACE, 41 Union St., Easthampton; by telephone at (800) 595-4TIX and online at www.pacetheater.com. Student, senior citizen and P.A.C.E. member and group (10 or more) discounts are available.

"Falsettos" sponsors to date include Baystate Health, the Valley Advocate, the Daily Hampshire Gazette, WGBY, 88.5FM/WFCR, NPR News and Music for Western New England, 640AM/WNNZ, WFCR's AM broadcast station and Leigh Shepley Miranda Attorney-at-Law. This program is supported in part by a grant from the Amherst and Northampton Cultural Councils, local agencies which are supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.

The Pioneer Arts Center of Easthampton (P.A.C.E.) educates and engages the public in the full life cycle of the creative process in the performing arts from concept through completion. Its mission is to make this process and product accessible to the entire community both as audience and participants; to inspire and encourage artistic expression through education, performance, and craftsmanship; and to broaden the cultural horizon of the individuals and the community. P.A.C.E.'s production of "Falsettos" follows on the heels of their critically acclaimed and hip-hop restaging of "West Side Story" in 2008. For more information visit www.pacetheater.com.