The iconic gay musical “Falsettos” is finishing its 2019 revival tour in Charlotte at the end of this month from June 25-30 at Knight Theater at the Levine Center for the Arts. A highly frenetic play that shifts from neurotic comedy to sexy duets and heart-string tugging drama, it is sure to entertain and thrill. qnotes got a chance to reach out and talk to actor Nick Adams, one of the male leads of “Falsettos” who plays the role of Whizzer, and to discuss what “Falsettos” (which originally appeared on Broadway in 1992) has to offer audiences today.
The play begins just before the 1980s in New York City. The main character, Marvin, has left his wife for his friend, Whizzer. Trina, Marvin’s ex-wife, turns to therapy to cope with the loss of her relationship and begins a romance with her psychiatrist, Mendel. All the while Jason, Marvin and Trina’s young son is having his own problems, like seeing his family split up and worrying about which girls will be invited to his upcoming Bar Mitzvah. The story is told in two acts and has nearly 40 songs, with virtually every line of dialogue being sung. A few stand out songs include the endlessly catchy “Four Jews in a Room Bitching,” which opens the play, and the highly emotional “Father and Son” that concludes the first act.
According to Adams, “it’s impossible to not see yourself in at least one of the characters” of “Falsettos.” This is a play “that’s about growing up, changing and having curve balls thrown at you.” Despite how frequently humorous the play can be, complex moments are never far away. All of the characters are “honest and flawed depictions” of how real people hurt and love each other, and the story is as much a celebration of non-traditional families as it is a memorial to the HIV crisis of the 1980s.
In Adam’s own words, he has only ever wanted to be a Broadway actor. He has played many famous roles in influential plays such as Fiyero in “Wicked,” Angelique in “La Cage aux Folles,” and Felicia Jollygoodfellow in the Broadway run of “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.” Adams comes off as an incredibly humble and sincere person despite having to play roles that demand enormous energy and personality. When asked about his stint on “Priscilla,” he remarked that it was “one of the most joyful experience of my life” and that he still gets letters from fans claiming that the show helped them come out of the closet.
He has been in love with “Falsettos” since well before he joined the 2019 revival tour and has been immensely grateful to be a part of two “powerful pieces of gay theater.” Both Whizzer and Felicia have been Adam’s dream roles. Before Adam’s got to join the cast of “Falsettos,” he performed “The Games I Play” from act one of the play at the Broadway in Chicago Theater Festival. He caught the attention of William Finn, the lyricist behind the original script. “He actually said he normally hates ‘The Games I Play.’” Adams’ performance made Finn fall back in love with the song. In spite of such glowing praise from one his idols, Adams retells the anecdote with an almost understated tone. This same feeling of gratitude and sense of being a part of something bigger than himself permeates all discussions of Adams’ career.
When asked about the different locations and venues he got to visit for the tour, Adams had a noted appreciation for being able to perform a classic gay play in places like Fayetteville, (Ark.), a “cute college town that probably wouldn’t have been able to have this play 10 years ago.” The ghost of the HIV crisis of the 1980s was especially impactful when the cast performed in San Francisco. “The magnitude of the play was felt by everyone when performing there,” Adams said.
For those who are longtime fans of “Falsettos,” or Adams’ other roles, you cannot miss out on this performance. If you are just hearing about it from qnotes, tickets are on sale now. You might just fall in love with Whizzer and his dysfunctional, but loving family.