Interview: Adam Haynes (Falsettos)
Updated: Jan 30
Nominated for five 2017 Tony Awards, including Best Revival of a Musical, Falsettos is an hilarious and poignant look at a modern family revolving around the life of a gay man Marvin, his wife, his lover, his soon to be bar mitzvah’d son, their psychiatrist, and the lesbians next door.
It is a seamless pairing of March of the Falsettos and Falsettoland, acclaimed Off-Broadway musicals written nearly a decade apart. Originally created under the spectre of the AIDS crisis, this timely musical about middle class family dynamics manages to remain buoyant and satirically perceptive even as it moves towards its heartbreaking conclusion.
To kick off, what show are you currently working on and what is your role in the production?
Falsettos. I am the Director and Producer of the production.
What drew you to this show and why do you think now is the right time to be bringing this story to the stage?
It is a wonderful piece of theatre that is rarely undertaken and performed here in Australia. It is a critically acclaimed show with a wonderful and increasingly relevant story about dysfunction in family structures and how love comes in many forms. We decided to bring this show to Riverside theatres as pieces like this rarely get performed outside the city bubble.
What has the experience been like working on this show? What has been unique about this show and your process in comparison to other shows you have worked on?
It’s been a really fulfilling process for me directing an entirely sung through musical. It is definitely a project structure that I have wanted to work on for some time, so as to extend my own directing capabilities. Having directed numerous musicals in Sydney, all with the same, scene, sing, dance, structure its great to be able to throw it all into a creative blender and tackle something so creatively rich and complex in both its format and its story.
What can audiences look forward to in this show or why do you feel it is a story that they need to hear?
Falsettos is not a show that comes around very often but it is definitely one for music theatre tragics. What I would describe as the original modern family. Falsettos tells a story of Marvin & Trina raising their son Jason after they divorce due to Marvin coming out as gay. The audience can look forward to some stellar performances by our cast and a story that they won’t soon forget.
What has been the most rewarding part of this show to create for you?
The acting process and characters that our cast are creating is one of real play and development. They are connecting in some wonderful ways and getting to play in the rehearsal room, as the director, with actors who snap up every change to grow and develop is always very rewarding. Falsettos leaves a lot of room for creative license and dramaturg exploration.
Why is this a production that a 2020 audience cannot miss?
Although the show (which was originally 3 different shows before it was put together in 1992) is set in 1979-1981, every single theme is still relevant today. It focuses not only on family breakdown but the building of a new family which needs to be very inclusive of LGBTQ+ people and issues. So in a show that was daring and openly optimistic in a time when the opposite rang true, it is wonderful to see the 2020 comparison to what has and hasn’t changed in world views towards these themes and issues.
When first beginning a new project, what is the first part of your process in approaching a new role?
When directing a new production I make sure I have a clear vision about what I want the end result to look like so that every single decision I make, builds towards the end goal and I can align every other department with equal focus.
What is a common misconception that people have about your role in the production?
I often find that people don’t realise how much prep work goes into directing a show! The sheer amount of hours it takes simply creating blocking and interactions on stage, also needing to help drive every other department is huge. I am often amused when people think directors work on the fly in the rehearsal room and don’t think about all the behind the scenes work that has to happen before you even get to working with the actors.
What has the rehearsal process been like in bringing this story to life? By the time audiences see this show on stage, what has gone into making it happen?
This show will have rehearsed for approximately 100+ hours in the rehearsal room prior to hitting the stage. But a lot of rehearsal has had to happen in the actors own time as well, due to the show being entirely sung though and needing to be off book relatively quickly and have learned the material prior to that weeks rehearsal. Our cast has risen to the challenge tremendously well.
Do you have any opening night rituals? If so, what are they?
Suit up and wear my lucky undies!
What is something that you take away from each show that you work on? Do you feel like you take a piece of the production with you each time?
Wonderful friends, new contacts and often a car boot full of props and costumes that live in there for 6 months until I need to clear it out for the next show!
When was the turning point for you when you realised that theatre was not just a hobby but a passion? How did you go about making it your career and is there any one show that you can attribute this to?
In 2016 I decided to put my money where my mouth was and open Theatre & Company. Having my own production company meant I wasn’t waiting on someone else to employ me. I was able to cultivate a great creative team and put on shows in a timeline that suited us and our partnership with the very supportive Riverside Theatres in Parramatta. After having a brilliant time directing the NSW Premiere of Catch Me If You Can at Willoughby Theatre Company I knew I needed to branch out and create theatre as much as I possibly could.
Across your work, is there one story, thought or theme that keeps you interested in continuing to create? What stories do you find yourself drawn to the most?
I find it’s the stories you create with your team on shows that make creating theatre worthwhile and memorable. I often find that I remember going through the paces of producing and directing but what stands out are the wonderful people and the fun that is had along the way. I think back to all the shows i’ve ever been a part of and there are fuzzy bits in scripts and scores that I can’t remember for the life of me but the people I’ve had around me and the process of the creation will always burn in the forefront of my mind. I believe theatre is about the characters on and off the stage that stay with you forever.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given that you would like to pass on to aspiring theatre makers?
Surround yourself with people who know more than you do and listen. The best theatre is created by collaborative and happy teams, not one amazing individual. They say it takes a village, so go find some village people.
RAPID FIRE QUESTIONS
What is your favourite production you have ever seen?
The Bands Visit - Broadway.
You’re getting on a plane tomorrow and you can go anywhere in the world - where do you go?
The Isle of Capri.
What is your dream show to work on?
What is a hobby you have beyond the theatre?
Model Steam Trains
What’s next for you after this show?
Directing Priscilla Queen of the Desert at The Concourse.
Falsettos opens at the Riverside Theatres on March 5, 2020. You can get your tickets here.