Playbill Pride: From Angels in America to Hedwig, Our Top Ten Gay Plays

By Ben Rimalower
27 Jun 2013

4. Falsettos
Music & Lyrics by William Finn
Book by William Finn & James Lapine

Originally produced Off-Broadway at Playwrights Horizons as two separate one acts, March of the Falsettos and Falsettoland, a decade apart (and something of a sequel to the 1979's In Trousers), Falsettos finally opened on Broadway in 1992 where it won the Tony Awards for Best Book and Best Score, but lost Best Musical to the "new" Gershwin tuner Crazy For You. Act One (March of the Falsettos) deals with a married man coming out of the closet and beginning a relationship with another man and how this all affects his wife and their son. Act Two (Falsettoland) juxtaposes the son's Bar Mitzvah with his father's boyfriend becoming an early victim of AIDS.

Falsettos was groundbreaking, not only in its frank and realistic portrayal of AIDS and modern gay life, but also in its utterly original style of musical storytelling — conversational and idiosyncratic and at times, lyrical and deeply moving. Falsettos seemed to pave the way for a new kind of quirky, human-scale musical theatre — sadly one which has failed to materialize in the years since.