Falsettos: on song with WA premiere of breathtaking musical

THE Old Mill Theatre is opening its 2012 season this February with the WA premiere of an acclaimed, award-winning musical.

Directed by the experienced and well-known John Milson with musical direction from Alistair Smith, Falsettos has been described as a production that provokes laughter and tears in equally copious amounts.

Written by William Finn, the story follows a warring modern family in an age of liberated sexual choices and shifting social rules. It also comes with top-notch theatrical credentials, winning two Tony Awards in 1992.

Milson said Finn, also responsible for the musical The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, has rightly been described as a genius for his unique voice.

“He delivers wickedly witty and sardonic lyrics, matched with energetic, heartfelt music,” he said. “This musical is actually the second and third parts of a trilogy: the first show is called In Trousers, the second is March of the Falsettos and the third is Falsettoland.

“Each was produced singularly as one-act plays before the second and third were put together as acts one and two of Falsettos.”

Given some of the subject matter in Falsettos, Milson warns it is a musical for adults and not suitable for children under 12.

“It focuses on Marvin, his ex-wife Trina, his psychiatrist Mendel, his son Jason and his gay lover Whizzer Brown,” he said. “Despite being at odds with each other, they become fondly united in love and death.”

In 2010, Milson celebrated a 40-year career as a director and lecturer, covering drama, opera, musicals and cabaret. Originally from Sydney, he has been based in Perth since 1986 and was head of musical theatre at the WA Academy of Performing Arts for 12 years, where he worked with a vast array of students who went on to bigger and better things, including actor Lisa McCune, musical theatre performers Lara Mulcahy and Alexander Lewis and opera singer Emma Matthews.

Milson has also received an Order of Australia for his services to the performing arts and WA Equity Guild Awards for best director and lifetime achievement in the arts.

With Falsettos, he is aiming to deliver the required passion and sensitivity in a joyous story about the struggle between values, love and forgiveness.

“It touches on concepts of life, loss, relationships, alternative families and the relationships of love that develop, all set at the turn of the 1980s,” he said. “This musical is a work of genius – it’s class writing of the highest order that will have audiences in stitches at the start and needing tissues by the end.”

The talented cast features David Bowyer, Breeahn Jones, Tyler Jones, Welland Joyce, Matthew Kiely, Carolyn Latter and Sharon Wisniewski.

Falsettos plays at 8pm, February 3, 8, 9, 10, 11, 15, 16, 17 and 18 with a 5pm matinee on February 5 and 2pm matinee February 12. Tickets are $25, $20 concession – book on 9367 8719 or oldmilltheatre@iinet.net.au.

The heritage-listed Old Mill Theatre is on Mends Street, South Perth, opposite the Windsor Hotel and Australia Post.