Mad Theatre’s ‘Falsettos’ shines at Straz

ABOVE: The cast of “Falsettos.” Photo courtesy Mad Theatre.

TAMPA | Mad Theatre’s production of “Falsettos” will close at the Straz Center Feb. 17-19, an extension of the company’s mission to bring affordable musical theater to audiences throughout the region.

“Falsettos” originally premiered in 1992, pairing “March of the Falsettos” and “Falsettoland,” two Off-Broadway musicals. The show was a perfect fit for the company’s goal “to produce shows that make you laugh, shows that make you think, and shows that make you want to get up onstage and perform with us.”

The celebrated musical “tells the story of a gay man named Marvin who leaves his wife Trina and son Jason, to be with his lover named Whizzer,” it’s officially described. “With the help of their family psychiatrist, Mendel and their neighbors Charlotte and Cordelia, the family learns to grow up and face the future in the 70’s and 80’s through the early days of the AIDS crisis.”

Mad Theater Artistic Director and Board President Tony Gilkinson, who also directed the piece, says the company is the first to produce “Falsettos” in Tampa Bay in over 20 years. It played Feb. 3-5 and 10-12 to great success.

“We starting engaging audiences through our TikTok channel and the true fans of the shows started engaging each of our posts and reposting them,” Gilkinson says. “Many of them committed to being at our show opening weekend and they all came through.

“As I sat in the audience, I heard the audience laugh with the actors and cry during the tender and devastating moments too,” he continues. “It was truly wonderful for the cast to meet everyone in person after the show.”

The production features Marcus Blake as Marvin, Jessica Berger Vitalo as Trina, Evan Lomba as Whizzer, Chris Cordero as Mendel, Sam Sobel as Jason, Casey Vaughan as Charlotte and Gabrielle Ray as Cordelia. Megan Zeitler serves as musical director with stage management by Nicole Petta.

Gilkinson says it’s a show that resonates with audiences for a number of reasons, LGBTQ and non.

“This show premiered 30 years ago and it remains just as relevant and impactful today as it was then,” he explains. “Back in 1992, you did not see a musical with openly gay characters being handled in this way. It was Avant Garde for its time.”

Its portrayal of the AIDS crisis is also significant. “It is important to always present the history in a realistic and transparent way that doesn’t sugar coat how devastating the AIDS Crisis was to the gay community during this time,” he adds.

Four performances of “Falsettos” remain. Audiences can see the show Feb. 17 at 7:30 p.m., Feb. 18 at 2 p.m. or 7:30 p.m. and Feb. 19 at 2 p.m. Tickets start at $27.

“While the show deals with a Jewish family coming to terms with a husband coming out of the closet and leaving his wife and child to be his authentic self, you don’t have to be either Jewish or Gay to see yourself, your friends or your family in these characters,” Gilkinson notes. “Definitely come out and support local community theatre … You will NOT be disappointed.”

View a gallery of photos below, courtesy of Mad Theatre.

“Falsettos” plays Feb. 17-19 at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts, located at 1010 N. Macinnes Pl. in Tampa. For more information and to purchase tickets, click here. Learn more about Mad Theatre at MadTheatre.com.

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