The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The Station Theatre brings ‘Falsettos’ to life

Photo courtesy of Kendall Jeonson
Left to right: Jacob Deters, Andrew Simek, Kimmy Schofield, and Melissa Goldman in Station Theater’s Falsetto production.

The Station Theatre in Urbana is putting together a production of “Falsettos” set to run from March 21 to April 7. The theater originally planned to perform the show in 2020, but production was halted due to COVID-19.

The show is not the same as it was intended to be in 2020, as it now has a different production team, an altered cast and the addition of a full understudy cast.

“Kendell, who’s the director, has been wonderful to work with, and see his vision coming to life slowly from what his original vision was in 2020 to now,” said Melissa Goldman, who plays Dr. Charlotte. “It’s just been beautiful to see him blossom as a director and take on this project, a dream project of his.”

According to Owen Henderson, the understudy for Whizzer, the main cast will perform 75% of the shows while the understudy cast has a guaranteed performance of 25% of the shows. 

“This production’s a little bit interesting because we have two full casts and that’s not super typical, especially in community theater,” Henderson said. “We’re lucky that there’s so many talented people here.”

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“Falsettos,” while maintaining bits of comedic relief, is a story rooted in complex themes of family, gender roles, the AIDS crisis and love. 

The story takes place in the ’80s and depicts the lives of a gay man named Marvin, his lover Whizzer and Marvin’s unknowing wife Trina, along with their extended family amid the AIDS crisis. 

Michael Steen, who plays Marvin, believes that it’s important to showcase heavier themes in the theater to encourage people to think about narratives and perspectives that aren’t necessarily their own.

“I think ‘Falsettos’ does a great deal of that,” Steen said. “It also delves into the AIDS crisis, which is a part of our history that is very poignant and sad. We really shouldn’t forget that and all that we lost.”

Similarly, Goldman said that musical theater is a more palatable experience in which audience members can soak up the complexities of life.

“I think that everyone should listen to a musical of some kind on a heavy subject or something to remind themselves that the human condition is real and that — though it’s through music — it can touch your soul in another way,” Goldman said.

Jaclyn Loewenstein, who plays Trina, thinks that the message and story of “Falsettos” will be more impactful on audiences who have now experienced COVID-19.

“I think this show will wash over people differently after all having lived through COVID,” Loewenstein said.

In addition to time devoted to rehearsals, actors took extra time to research their characters and learn about their situations to become more immersed in the story.

“I’ve done a lot of medical research of HIV and the AIDS epidemic, and all these podcasts and journals and books I’ve read just to get more informed about the real-life struggles and internal conflicts these people have gone through during that time,” Goldman said.

Loewenstein found her mother, who grew up in a similar time as Trina, to be a wealth of information in developing her character.

“It’s interesting to talk to my mom about what she remembers about the ’60s and ’70s and the constraints on women, women’s roles and expectations and the strong pressure to be married,” Loewenstein said. “That’s a big theme in this.”

The Station Theatre will be performing two benefit shows during its run of “Falsettos.” On opening night, half of the ticket sales will go toward the Greater Community AIDS Project of East Central Illinois. On March 31, half of the ticket sales will go toward the Champaign Urbana Jewish Federation.

Tickets for “Falsettos” are currently on sale and can be purchased on the Station Theatre’s website

“You’ve got the really funny moments,” Henderson said. “You’ve got the really touching moments. I think it’s really got something for everybody.”


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