I'm Breaking Down: The Top Ten Songs by William Finn

By Ben Rimalower
16 Nov 2013

8. "How Marvin Eats His Breakfast" (from In Trousers)

This bombastic production number from In Trousers is great example of the blazing presentational style Finn used with joyful abandon in much of his early career. It feels like not only are the lunatics running the asylum, but they're putting on a talent-show night at the sanitarium. This vaudevillian spirit is present in the text and even more so in the style, demonstrated by the way each verse gets increasingly more frantic, like we can see the strain on the troupe performing the number. We see their effort in actually singing and dancing the song, as well in the process around Marvin's breakfast, which is metaphorically represented by the music and lyrics and movement. It's a multi-dimensional kind of musical theatre that we don't see enough of.