In Trousers

Nick Hoffa, with Mia Lobel, Arwen Anderson, and Aimée Barile.
Mia Lobel
Nick Hoffa, with Mia Lobel, Arwen Anderson, and Aimée Barile.

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Through Sept. 4 at Theater Rhinoceros Studio, 2926 16th St. (at South Van Ness), S.F. Call 861-5079

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Falsettos creator William Finn's earlier pop operetta receives an enthusiastic, if unpolished, production by director Zanne Burdick and her cast. Marvin (Nick Hoffa) chose wrongly when two roads diverged, marrying a woman and fathering a child despite being gay. Now he's trying to get back to the road not taken. His high school girlfriend (Aimée Barile -- a smashing, hilarious cross between Nicole Kidman and a kewpie doll), his drama teacher (Mia Lobel), and his wife (Arwen Anderson) participate in the action and serve as a Greek chorus. Dramatizing a cliché is always difficult and Marvin's moaning about "me and them, me and men" doesn't help much. The music alternates between peppy Sondheim pop and moody Philip Glass-like arpeggios. Hoffa's singing is assured; the women's less so (especially Anderson, but she has good comic form in "I'm Breaking Down" and often hits the right emotional notes). Sarah Simon's set uses a small space ingeniously, but Michael Starobin's drum-heavy orchestrations often overwhelm the singers and his own piano playing. Still, the company commits to the play with energetic affection -- which is more than it deserves. "Forget what I've done and think about yourselves instead," Marvin advises the women he's wronged. Fuck you, Marvin.

 
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