By Michael Buckley
08 May 2005
|Photo by Dramatic Forces|
The film covers the 2003-04 Broadway season and focuses on four shows: Avenue Q, Wicked, Taboo and Caroline, or Change, chronicling them from their beginnings through Tony night. At the screening, the director claimed to have shot approximately 400 hours for the 102-minute feature. "The rest," she joked, "will be on the DVD."
Berinstein has succeeded in her goal of making a cinematic equivalent of the celebrated William Goldman book, "The Season," which covered the 1967-68 Broadway productions. "When I first read it [in college], I so desperately wanted to see a Broadway show. I grew up in Los Angeles and had never seen one. But I was very fortunate. I went to theatre all the time and was passionate about it. I grew up with a desire to produce Broadway shows. [She's currently working on her 11th production.] The Goldman book was my inspiration. I wanted to bring [his idea] to life. His book so completely captivated me."
"Show Business" will captivate many viewers. As Mr. Berlin wrote, "Everything about it is appealing. . ." It transports us behind the scenes for a view of "the costumes, the scenery, the make-up, the props," and allows us to share some of the excitement in creating magic.
We experience the elation of hearing one's name as Tony Award nominations are announced and the devastation of an actor whose musical has closed — namely, an emotional Euan Morton en route to the airport for a flight back to England after Taboo has failed and his green card's been revoked.
Among the commentators are composer-lyricist Stephen Schwartz, who declares a musical version of Wicked "the best idea I'd ever heard"; New York Times critic Ben Brantley ("The musical [that season] that worked best for me from beginning to end was Avenue Q"); that show's songwriters, Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx; Tonya Pinkins, Alan Cumming, New Yorker magazine critic John Lahr, and William Goldman.
A couple of the comments: Boy George states, "If you stop shows like Taboo on Broadway, all you're going to have is Andrew Lloyd Webber [music] for the rest of your life." Euan Morton (recalling the night in London when Boy George brought Rosie O'Donnell backstage and she vowed to bring Taboo to Broadway), "After she left, Boy George said, 'We're never going to see that dyke again!'"
Just when you thought it was safe to go back to the movies, Michael Riedel is ready for his close-up. The New York Post columnist is one of five commentators on the Broadway scene (the others are Patrick Pacheco, and critics Linda Winer, Jacques LeSourd and Charles Isherwood), who gather on four occasions to discuss (and dissect) different shows.
This group is viewed dining at such theatre-district restaurants as Angus McIndoe and Orso. At their first meeting, Riedel gleefully anticipates "more bombs, something to write about . . .that's what I'm looking forward to." Later, he comments on Wicked: "I saw it in San Francisco. It has a lot of problems," and inquires, "Who is the audience for Avenue Q?"
In these scenes, the attention invariably gravitates towards Riedel — the way it does with Tyler Maynard in Altar Boyz (or perhaps Riedel bribed the cameraman). Near the end, he's seen at the Tonys' press room, where he calls the continuing awards for Avenue Q, "the biggest upset I've come across." As himself, Riedel's performance falls short of George Sanders playing Addison DeWitt, but fares better than Rex Reed's Myron Breckenridge.
"It was only clear at the end of the season which shows to focus on," explains Dori Berinstein. "It was in the editing room that we started to work on the real storytelling. Four shows really stood out. And we had to keep it tight. Beyond the Broadway community, we wanted to appeal to the people in Peoria who, if they didn't already appreciate theatre, might discover a love for it." Continued...