Best Musical - 2004
Tough call. The Black Rep did a solid job with Raisin, complete with some breath-stopping choreography by Keith Tyrone. But last May's New Jewish Theatre production of William Finn's Falsettos continues to resonate in a vital kind of way that few productions do. Falsettos is actually two one-act musicals written and produced nearly a decade apart, in 1981 and 1990. When staged together they present a brash, tender portrait of gay life during the Reagan-dominated 1980s, the decade in which AIDS began to ravage the nation. The exuberant and polished local production, directed by Edward M. Coffield, sported persuasive leading performances by Bill Lynch as a man who has left his wife and son in order to live with his gay lover, and Steve Isom as an opportunistic psychiatrist who puts the make on the rejected wife. Even more significant, the evening's reminder of the 1980s political Zeitgeist that chose to ignore AIDS was so sadly stirring that it even managed to override the rose-colored excesses of a presidential funeral.