First, watch the full-length production of Falsettos, a musical with a book by William Finn and James Lapine, and music and lyrics by Finn. Then follow the instructions below to write your critique.
Step 1: Please watch the entire production of Falsettos. Please disregard any of the comments on the YouTube page–the password-protected link I’ve always used for this course somehow vanished the other day, so I had to redirect you to a public page in order to view the production.
Act 1: New York City 1979
Act 2: Two Years Later
*Helpful Hint*: Read “Step 2” before watching so that you know what you are looking for in regards to what you will be writing about after viewing.
Step 2: After having watched the production, follow the guidelines below to share what comedic elements you were able to identify and, in your opinion, how successful they were.
The Basics: This paper should be written as a formal essay in MLA format. It should be typed, double spaced, with proper grammar and spelling. It should be 1000 words total (4 pages).
Guidelines: Please discuss the following topics throughout your paper. Each topic should be covered in 1-2 paragraphs. Some paragraphs may be longer/shorter than others just depending on how it strikes you. There is not a “right or wrong” answer, as it may be different for each individual. Just be sure that you discuss your thoughts/opinions on each topic fully and with as much specificity as possible.
Here are the topics to be covered:
1. Musical Theatre. After having watched a full-length production of a straight play during Module 3 and now seeing a full-length production of a musical, what are some of the major differences? Can you identify some of the similarities?
2. Stakes in Songs. It is often said that characters in a musical begin to sing because the emotional stakes are so high the only way for them to express themselves is through song (i.e. in moments of great joy, sadness, anger, etc). Can you identify a few examples of this during Falsettos? What were the emotional stakes that seemed to motivate the character to sing? How did the song help the character express themselves?
3. Storytelling Through Song. As you may recall, in a “book musical” the plot points should be moved forward from scene to song, to scene to song, etc. Part of this responsibility lies in the writing and the other part in the actors. Did you feel like the writing was successful in keeping the story seamless from scene to song, to scene to song? Why or why not? Did you feel like the actors did a good job of “storytelling” while singing? (In other words, did they continue to act and/or believably stay in character while singing?) Why or why not?
4. LGBQT & Theatre. In this module, we also discussed different types of contemporary American theatre including LGBQT + theatre. In what ways did this musical fall into this style of theatre? Was this show successful in representing this point of view? Why or why not?
5. Production. Did all of the production elements support the style of the show? Was the “world of the musical” cohesive? Did the lighting, costumes, set, sound, props all work to support what was happening in the story? Why or why not?
6. Overall. What are your overall thoughts about the musical? What were your favorite or least favorite moments of the show? Why? Did you find it to be a successful model of musical theatre? Why or why not?