Checkmate: Pacific University Stages Musical March of the Falsettos

Poster for March of the Falsettos

A story of five people trying to find love and to love each other, this spring the Tom Miles stage plays home to messy family life in the musical March of the Falsettos by William Finn.

Having first encountered the musical in the late 1980s, director Aaron Levin is excited to have the chance to stage this musical at Pacific University. “The show’s themes and situations are as relevant today as they were 30 years ago,” says Levin. “I am so impressed with the caliber of talent these Pacific students bring to this production, both on stage and behind the scenes. Their dedication and talent shows through clearly.”     

March of the Falsettos captures a moment in our recent cultural history, a time when the conventional image of a family was being dismantled and reconfigured,” says Ellen Margolis, chair of the Department of Theatre & Dance. Marvin, a divorced father in his first homosexual relationship, must juggle his family’s changing dynamics. On one hand he has his passionate lover Whizzer, the other his son Jason and his ex-wife Trina. Throw a romance between his therapist and ex-wife into the mix and anyone would feel a bit lost. “This musical is about an unconventional family trying to find their way in the world,” says Levin.     

Scenic and lighting designer Tal Sanders faces the challenge of featuring each of the musical’s five characters in their own spaces, and as an ensemble. That need “combined with one of the central themes of the production, that of life being played as a game, informed my image of a subtle hybrid house and game board stage,” says Sanders. Costume designer Melissa Heller, a recent Broadway World Portland award winner for Best Costume Design, drew from television show Modern Family for inspiration. “I aimed for the costumes to be fun, light, easy to move in, and rich in detail,” says Heller. “Every single thing has to tell a story without being noticed.”

The Department of Theatre & Dance was the fortunate recipient of a Young Chang Limited Edition Grand Piano, donated by Portland-based charity Michael Allen Harrison’s Snowman Foundation. The production features recent Pacific graduate Hannah Early (‘17) returning as a professional accompanist.

March of the Falsettos features an outstanding cast of student actors, Matt Gauss, Josh Hauser, Haley McKinnon, Lance Pollard, and Jeremiah Stephens. The show will have four performances in the Tom Miles, Warner Hall, at Pacific University’s Forest Grove Campus, running Thursday through Saturday, March 15 through 17, at 7:30 p.m.; and Sunday, March 18, at 2 p.m. For tickets and information, please visit

Contact: Ellen Margolis, Chair of Pacific University’s Department of Theatre & Dance, 503-352-2752,

Feb. 26, 2018