‘Falsettos’ on The 5 & Dime’s Intimate Stage is an Unusual Love Story, Heart-Rending Masterpiece

Photos by Maya Adkins

A DUAL CRITICS REVIEW

Downtown Jacksonville’s The 5 & Dime Theatre has opened Falsettos, an award-winning musical. The production opened June 14, and will remain on stage through June 30, 2019. The theatre is located at 112 East Adams Street; additional information is available on the company’s Facebook page. For reservations, call (904) 637-5100 or visit www.The5andDime.org.

Falsettos opened on Broadway in 1992, was nominated for seven Tonys, and won Best Book and Best Original Score; a 2016 revival was nominated for five Tonys. The play toured throughout the county during February 2018 -June 2019.

The book is by James Lapine, with music, lyrics, and book by William Finn. Finn may be better known to you from his popular The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.

Before we go any further with this review, if you are a theatre musical fan and have not seen Falsettos, make your plans now to experience this masterful sung-through achievement on the 5 & Dime’s intimate stage.  

The singing is fantastic, packaged with fine direction by Ron Shreve and musical direction by Erin Barnes (also on piano). Band members included Zeek Smith (synthesizer); Lee Wolf (bass); and Luis Ocasio, Eric Bailey, and Baldwin Rufino (percussion).

The 5 & Dime, Falsettos, Maya Adkins Photography

The story, which begins in New York in 1979, is an intense domestic drama that relates the difficulties family members and friends experience when faced with unforeseen challenges.   

Marvin, portrayed by Josh Waller, is the father of the family; a gay man who introduces us to his lover Whizzer (David Medina), his soon to be ex-wife Trina (Katie Swider McCloskey), and his son Jason (Carson Barnes), who is ten years old and very very smart.

The 5 & Dime, Falsettos, Maya Adkins Photography

After Marvin and Trina’s divorce is final, she turns to Mendel, Marvin’s psychiatrist (Cole Marshall), for support; they end up marrying. Shortly afterward, Marvin and Whizzer break up.

The second act, which is two years later, brings two new characters, who are Marvin’s neighbors. Dr. Charlotte (Kacy Hope) is an internist; her lover Cordelia (Julie Harrington) is a caterer who specializes in Jewish cuisine.

The 5 & Dime, Falsettos, Maya Adkins Photography

And while Marvin and Whizzer have renewed their relationship, Whizzer ends up in the hospital with an unnamed disease that, according to Dr. Charlotte, is affecting many gay males.   

As he lies in bed, wondering about this illness that has made him so sick, the entire cast gathers in his hospital room to cheer him up. Young Jason is willing to have his Bar Mitzvah there as well, and it becomes a festive occasion. At least temporarily.

The 5 & Dime, Falsettos, Maya Adkins Photography

The outstanding voices you will hear in this production have been on stages throughout the North Florida area. Josh Waller was most recently seen as Burrs in Players by the Sea’s Wild Party. Cole Marshall also appeared in Wild Party, in the roles of Max and God. David Medina has been on our local stages many times, beginning when he was a grade school student; roles have included the Wolf in Into The Woods and Judas in Godspell. Katie Swider-McCloskey has an impressive resume of shows locally, with her performance as Mae West in Dirty Blonde, an all-time favorite. Kacy Hope, who previously racked up an admirable list of Kentucky theatrical credits, has appeared in Theatre Jacksonville’s Mamma Mia and Peter Pan. Julie Harrington’s resume includes two 5 & Dime Shows, A New Brain and Company.

The 5 & Dime, Falsettos, Maya Adkins Photography

The talented Erin Barnes has been the musical director of many productions in North Florida, and is frequently featured on piano. As an actress, she has appeared together with her husband Matt in a number of productions. She recently appeared as Francesca in The Bridges of Madison County at Players by the Sea. Her son Cason Barnes was outstanding in the role of Jason; he has spent the last five summers singing and dancing at Camp Theatre Jacksonville. Ron Shreve, who directed this play, is Theatre Jacksonville’s Educational Director; he is also a fine actor and last appeared in Peter and the Starcatcher.

The 5 & Dime, Falsettos, Maya Adkins Photography

The Falsettos set has a background and stage flooring with geometric squares in lively colors, and black wooden boxes of varied sizes that are moved about to create changed locations.

Additional Production Team members included Kristin Livingston (Assistant Director); Katie Cress (Stage Manager, Lighting/Sound Board Operator); Jetti Godwin (Production Assistant); Samantha Catone (Lighting Design); Destiny Golden (Sound Engineer); Lee Hamby & Ron Shreve (Set Design); Katie Dawson (Scenic Artist); Cast & Ron Shreve (Costume Design).

For extraordinary voices, exceptional acting, and an unusual love story that is a heart-rending masterpiece, don’t miss this show!

About Dick Kerekes & Leisla Sansom

The Dual Critics of EU Jacksonville have been reviewing plays together for the past nine years. Dick Kerekes has been a critic since 1980, starting with The First Coast Entertainer and continuing as the paper morphed into EU Jacksonville. Leisla Sansom wrote reviews from time to time in the early 80s, but was otherwise occupied in the business world. As a writing team, they have attended almost thirty Humana Festivals of New America Plays at Actors Theatre in Louisville, Kentucky, and many of the annual conferences sponsored by the American Theatre Critics Association, which are held in cities throughout the country. They have reviewed plays in Cincinnati, Chicago, Miami, Sarasota, Minneapolis, Orlando, New York, Philadelphia, Sarasota, San Francisco, Shepherdstown, and The Eugene O’Neill Center in Waterford, Massachusetts. They currently review about one hundred plays annually in the North Florida area theaters, which include community, college, university, and professional productions.

october, 2021

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