The Colony Theatre in Burbank continues its fight for survival due to serious financial shortfalls, but you'd never know it from the venerable mid-sized venue's fine season-ender, "Falling for Make Believe." This world premiere musical by Mark Saltzman, developed by the Colony, delves into the troubled life of lyricist Lorenz Hart through actual events, deft fictional constructs and a feast of glorious Rodgers and Hart songs.
The musical opens in 1943, on the day of Hart's New York funeral. Sensitive Pennsylvania farm boy-turned-Broadway hopeful Fletcher, one of Hart's lovers (and a Saltzman creation) listens to radio tributes and grieves for the happily-ever-after that never was. In contrast, we see composer Rodgers give a eulogy carefully crafted for public consumption.
(Hart was an alcoholic and a closeted homosexual fearing career-ending exposure. The torment that both fueled and undermined the gifted lyricist's creative genius wasn't public knowledge even decades after his death from pneumonia.)