If you visit the Wilmington Drama League on any given weeknight, the moment you enter the building you are met with the bustling of actors, technicians, and volunteers hard to work in every room. A continual hum of excitement for the next production permeates every space you enter. This was especially true the other night in the rehearsal for Falsettos, the next of WDL’s Black Box Series that will be playing March 12-15.
The Tony-winning musical by James Lapine and William Finn focuses on Marvin, who leaves his wife Trina and son Jason to be with his male lover, Whizzer. Trina marries his psychiatrist, and Marvin ends up alone. Two years later while planning his son’s bar mitzvah, Marvin is reunited with his lover, just as the AIDS epidemic begins.
The actors were hard at work Tuesday night, perfecting Act II and trying out their costume changes for the first time. As Lauren Bastain dawned her lab coat and stethoscope, she mentioned, “It might sound silly, but adding a watch or bandana or stethoscope really helps us bring these characters to life and portray them as they are meant, and the more real we can make them, the more impact our storytelling will have.” Bastian is playing Dr. Charlotte, one of the “lesbians from next door.”
As the night progressed, you could tell how much the cast cared about the show. During the song, “What More Can I Say,” Marvin sits with Whizzer and reflects on their relationship while the couple goes about their daily routine. When director Sarah Nowak asked them to pause to make adjustments, the actors continued to hold hands. “It’s such a simple form of intimacy, but it’s so important to see that they can be tender with each other.” The intimacy of the show is exemplified by the staging, which is being done in the round, with audience members sitting on all four sides of WDL’s stage mere feet from the action.
The rehearsal was full of emotion, both happy and sad. The many moments of laughter early on were halted by a collective audible gasp that silenced the room. No spoilers as to what caused that gasp, but Greg McKinnon, who is playing Mendel the Psychiatrist turned and said, “That breaks me every time.”
The night finished off with a small photoshoot that broke the intensity and showed the love that this group has cultivated for each other.
If You Go
Falsettos runs March 12-15 and tickets are $15. Seating in the round is limited, so be sure to buy your tickets ahead of time here. The Wilmington Drama League has partnered with AIDS Delaware for the production and will have a representative from the organization with a table of educational resources at all four performances.