Billboard on Broadway Podcast: Andrew Rannells, William Finn and Friends on 'Falsettos'

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Joan Marcus
Christian Borle and Andrew Rannells in "Falsettos"

In 1992, William Finn's groundbreaking musical Falsettos opened on Broadway, telling the story of Marvin, a New Yorker who leaves his wife and son for another man while nonetheless trying to keep his "tight-knit family" together.

The show's revival, which was nominated for multiple Tonys and ran through January of this past year, was recently televised on PBS' Live From Lincoln Center -- and its creator, along with stars Andrew Rannells, Brandon Uranowitz and Tracie Thoms joined host Rebecca Milzoff on the Billboard on Broadway podcast to chat about their experience bringing the show back to Broadway.

The show's rapid-fire lyrics and nearly sung-through structure are technically challenging, but as the cast discusses, Finn's ultra-specific writing made the learning process a joy. "Because it lives in this stream of consciousness place, all of it, the melody and the lyrics, follow such a logical melodic path, you just sort of get on the train and ride it til the end," Uranowitz says. "Learning this thing was a beast, but once it's in your body, because Bill is so brilliant at what he does, it just sort of comes out of you."

"With Bill, everything is a very playable, very thoughtful moment," Rannells adds. "For that reason, it wasn't incredibly fatiguing...because it all felt like it made sense." 

Working with the living creator of a musical was an especially memorable treat, the cast shares. "Bill would change lines he'd just always wanted to change, which was very cool, to see him continuing to work on this piece," Rannells explains. "He was very thoughtful about the work he put into it."

"It felt like we were doing a brand new show, even though we weren't," Thoms adds. "Everybody had fresh eyes on it, and it was really freeing for me to explore a character as if she hadn't existed before."

In their chat, the cast and Finn discuss the aspects of the show that made it especially revolutionary, why it's especially well-suited to being filmed, and why, in Rannells' words, "it's just a perfect musical."

Falsettos is available for free on PBS.org through November 10.


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