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Messed up Marvin

The Plymouth Players’ production of Falsettoland portrays an 80s “extended family.”

By Michael Summers


Fort Wayne Reader


Marvin is a mess.

The protagonist of the musical Falsettoland , which begins its four-date run at the Plymouth Congregational Church on Friday, July 27, Marvin has a wife, Trina, and a 10-year-old son Jason. But in the first act he tells us that he’s realized he’s gay, and leaves his family for another man.

The thing is, Marvin still wants a family, and wants to be involved in the lives of his wife and son, and seems to have a tough time coming to terms with the fact that the other people in his life might not find the whole situation as easy as that. And when Marvin’s psychiatrist Dr. Mendel and Trina, Marvin’s ex-wife, fall in love and get married, that throws another wrench in Marvin’s quest for the ideal family…

Set during the early 80s, Falsettoland follows Marvin, his family, and a small circle of friends over the course of two years. The “light opera” (all the parts are sung) is being presented by the Plymouth Players as part of the Pride Festival at Headwaters Park that weekend. “Plymouth Congregational has always tried to reach out to the community in what they host or do as a church,” says Falsettoland director Brent Blalock. “They at least want to do something to recognize that this is something else going on in town.”

Last year, the Plymouth Players did Working, a musical with the unusual source material of Studs Terkel’s 1974 book. Besides being musicals, the two plays couldn’t be more different from one another. Working celebrates the American workers, and features dozens of people from all walks of life —salesmen, bus drivers, actors, police officers, plumbers — talking about (or in this case, singing about) what they do for a living and how they feel about it. Falsettoland happens on a far smaller scale, in a specific place and time, with just seven characters, and traces the trajectory of their lives over three acts. Besides being musicals, the two plays couldn’t be more different. And that’s the point of celebrating diversity, says Blalock, who directed both productions. “They’re both great pieces of theater that are rarely done in this community.”

Blalock, a veteran of local theater who estimates he’s directed between 35 and 40 different productions over the years, calls Falsettoland “a little edgy” (it’s rated PG-13). “It’s a play where people look at it and become very passionate one way or the other, whether they agree with it or disagree,” he says. “It makes you think ‘what would I do if I had a ‘blended family?’ and so many people do when they’re dealt cards that they might not normally have.”

And what is a “blended family,” exactly? “Anything starting from The Brady Bunch on,” laughs Blalock. “Seriously. In the case of Falsettoland, Marvin realizes his blended family is son, his ex-wife, the psychiatrist husband, and their friends.”

Falsettoland deals with some serious subject matter, from Marvin and Trina trying to find their way as their lives change, to Marvin’s son Jason, 12 at the end of the play, who now has to deal with some of the complexities of the adult world earlier than his parents may have wanted him to. Plus, it takes place in the early 80s, when the AIDS epidemic is just beginning to loom on the horizon. Nevertheless, the story is full or humor, wit and warmth. “You never know who your family is until a crisis happens,” Blalock says. “Marvin realizes you don’t have to go beyond your own backyard to find people who love and care for you.”

Plymouth Congregational Church and the Plymouth Players present Falsettoland
The Folsom Room, Plymouth Congregational Church, 501 West Berry Street
Fri. July 27th , Sat. July 28th , Sun. July 29th , and Mon. July 30th
Saturday July 28 and Sunday July 29 are dinner theatres. The cost is $20.00 for dinner and the show, $12.00 for show only, and a $3.00 discount for senior citizens. Reservations are required and can be made by calling 260-385-3691.

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