Musical is not the first thing that comes to mind when one thinks of Mosaic Theatre.
The theatre, located on the American Heritage campus in Plantation, has become Broward’s most highly regarded and consistently awarded theatre, known for thought-provoking work that deals with tough topics. But the current show at Mosaic is a departure from the company’s usual dramatic plays.
Make Me a Song: The Music of William Finn is only the second musical in Mosaic’s nearly decade –long existence. The first was A New Brain, also by William Finn, with sometime collaborator James Lapine. A New Brain is Finn’s autobiographical musical about a composer who is diagnosed with what might be terminal brain cancer, and his attempts to understand the place music holds in his life.
Richard Jay Simon, artistic director of Mosaic Theatre, finds a certain appeal in Finn’s music.
“I’m not a big musical theater guy so it is quite rare that a score will inspire me to put it in a season,” says Simon. “I’ve always found the idea of storytelling through song a difficult sell, but Finn’s music makes me feel alive every time I hear it. The music is so complex, so rich, so beautiful, that it can transform one’s spirit quite easily. His irreverent humor, intricate harmonies and sense of politics make my heart smile.”
Simon first became familiar with Finn’s work when he saw Falsettos in New York. Falsettos is a musical comprised of a trilogy of plays that Finn wrote about newly out Marvin, his lover Whizzer, his ex-wife, their son and her new husband. Falsettos deals with a new kind of family and AIDS, which changes the lives of the characters dramatically. Falsettos, which won Tony Awards in 1992, has been produced in South Florida by Stage Door when they operated the 26th Street Theatre in Wilton Manors, as well as the Miami Shores Performing Arts Theatre. Simon was so impressed with Finn’s work that he gravitated toward Finn’s A New Brain and included in the theatre’s 2003 season.
Songs from Falsettos are included in Make Me a Song: The Music of William Finn. Mosaic, which has a LGBT event for each show they produce, will have a reception and special guest speaker on March 11. The name of the speaker has yet to be announced.
Make Me a Song: The Music of William Finn features a cast of four: Stephen G. Anthony, Patti Gardner, Julie Kleiner and Joey Zangardi. Finn’s music created the biggest challenge for Mosaic.
“The harmonies are so complex,” says Simon. “Thnak god our musical director, David Nagy, started with the actors a week before the director, Mike Larsen, came to town.”
Besides A New Brain and Falsettos, Finn’s work includes writing the music and lyrics for The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, and Elegies: A Song Cycle. He lives in New York City with his longtime partner and is adjunct faculty member of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.
Simon’s affinity for Finn’s work has lead him to consider including more musicals for Mosaic productions. He’s even looking into investing in wireless microphones for the theatre.
“I think he’s right up there as one of the best,” says Simon of Finn. “As far as a lyricist and composer, he ranks supreme in my eyes and his material speaks for itself.”
Make Me a Song: The Music of William Finn, runs through March 21 at Mosaic Theatre, 12200 W. Broward Blvd., Plantation.
For tickets and information, call 954-57-STAGE, or visit MosaicTheatre.com.