DANCE, YOU IDIOTS, DANCE!
Lead actor : Meryl Stripe, Jo Ellen Pellman…
Warden: Ryan Murphy
Now VickiTube, my new streaming service, broadcasts two iconic series, A View with Vicki, my morning chat show in which three other famous Hollywood actresses and I discuss the pressing issues of our time, and Virtually Vicki, in which I take classic movies and enhance them by composing myself using green screen technology, bringing the most boring classics to life with a little Vicki Lester-style spice. The last one, my version of the holiday classic It’s a Wonderful Life, has a bridge before Jimmy Stewart pulls it out of the water.
I was looking for the right subject to broadcast on Christmas Eve, something that could become an eternal favorite. I looked at different scenarios that were presented to see if we could find the right home. I am very impressed by And Then There Were Nuns, the musical sequel to The Sound of Music, which follows the sisters of the monastery of Nonneberg under Nazi occupation – it’s all about music and prayer, until the murderer starts sneaking into the monastery church and murders the nun after the nun. It doesn’t seem appropriate for Christmas, maybe we’ll leave it for Easter. This leaves me a lot of time to rewrite, so that I can change the main character from Mother Superior to a young postulant, which better corresponds to my still young age of 39. Then there was the idea to organize a Star Wars party, but apparently they had already done that.
Inspiringly, I made a big pitcher of sangria and went to the home theater to see if there was anything new on Netflix that would give me a stroke of genius. While watching the new releases, I saw that the filmed version of Ryan Murphy’s latest musical, The Prom, was out, so I decided to spend a few hours singing LGBTQ, dancing and doing activities. I missed the original show on stage because it didn’t last long enough to be seen in New York, but friends told me it was a good old-fashioned musical, although with a modern theme. I love staged acts, touching monologues in song, emotional interaction in dance and glitter for days on end, and I was sure Mr. Murphy, given his past work, wouldn’t disappoint.
image courtesy of Netflix
The diploma is a clever amalgam of fish from water and age and social history. It may sound ominous, but the elements are relatively well balanced and provide an entertaining mix. The two opposing worlds are the modern Broadway (before the closure of Covid) and the small town of Edgewater, Indiana. In Edgewater, Emma (Jo Ellen Pellman) is an unadjusted young lesbian (recognizable by her toboggan hat and sports shoes) who wants to ask her friend about prom. The PTA, bullied by Kerry Washington as an attractive cheerleader (Ariana DeBose) who falls in love with young Emma without her mother’s knowledge, is determined not to organize a gay ball, despite the violation of civil rights laws and the fact that she has a principled Hawkins (Keegan-Michael Key) in mind. Meanwhile, on Broadway, diva Dee Allen (Meryl Streep) and her co-star, pre-Barry Glickman (James Corden), open their new musical on Eleanor Roosevelt, who quickly flops. Dee Dee and Barry, who have joined Sardi’s through their friends, the lifelong chorus girl Angie (Nicole Kidman) and the freelance actor-turned-barkeeper Trent (Andrew Rannells), are determined to prove that they are not great narcissists by getting on the right side of the social issue. They read about Emma on Twitter and went with a quartet to Indiana to settle things in the Hoosier State. In the spirit of all good musicals there are unexpected twists and turns, everyone learns a little about themselves, and by the time the grand finale comes, everyone feels better and gets what they want, even if it’s not what they thought they were looking for.
Ryan Murphy is generally a meticulous visual director, and he doesn’t disappoint. The ball is bathed in pink and neon green, with fantastic sets that are flawlessly executed (production design by Jamie Walker McCall). The opening number, which is on an incredibly clean .44. The street near the rooms of Times Square, where many Broadway houses have been moved from their current location for visual effect, is charming and attracts Sardinians into spacious and fantastic spaces and, like all good musical starting points, sets the tone and rules – both musical and logistical – for the next few hours. We know that we are in a world where song and dance make sense, where people are worse and brighter than the Rockettes, and where everything will always be good, no matter how good hockey is. It’s a beautiful escape from the world of Covid-19.
The greatest strength lies in the performance of old professionals and new faces. Meryl Streep brings Dee Dee her own time and best impression. With a short red wig and impeccable makeup, she dominates all the scenes in which she finds herself and of course she likes to create a sensation by reading lines and catchy gestures. Some have complained that James Corden is a straight man who plays a very homosexual role, and since the character is very diverse, he is the equivalent of a minstrel. I don’t agree, because if only homosexuals can play a role, only heterosexuals should play a role, and that would exclude homosexual actors from many roles. Let the best available actor play the role, regardless of their actual sexuality, ethnicity, political beliefs, or other circumstances. It’s called acting. Personally, I have never ruled a kingdom, but that did not stop me from playing six princesses, three queens and an empress during my career. I’ve met a lot of gay people over the years, and the character of Barry and Corden brings with it a certain sympathy. He’s not quite on Streep’s level, but who is? Nicole Kidman has legs for days, and her big act in the second act, Zazz, is a highlight. Andrew Rannells doesn’t have much to do, but he gets a big revival act in the mall food court that ends with a powerful Esther Williams moment.
Jo Ellen Pellmann, in the leading role of the young Emma, is clearly much older than 17 years and seems a little too conventionally attractive for this role, which I think calls for someone more authentic and eccentric. She has a beautiful voice, seems to be a good actress and makes you aware of what is going to happen, especially if she is prepared for serious humiliation (Act I final in the stage version). The conclusion does not completely eliminate his stage roots. The script seems very ready to be staged, even though the story is open to long intrigue. The original creators – Matthew Sklar (music), Chad Begulen (text) and Bob Martin (book) – sit behind the camera and have edited the material. The problem is that the material is not the best. The music is boring modern Broadway pop, with little or no catchy melody, and the lyrics are boring and forgetful. A book that was fun on Broadway retains its charm as long as you are willing to suspend your disbelief and deal with it.
The ball is good entertainment, a soft but heavy message about tolerance, and features some bold performances and a visual style full of pep. What’s not to love?
Bad reviews. Get rid of the pendants. Graceful tambourines. Apples and bees. A song about the magic of theatre. A song about self-realization. A graceful makeup sequence. Hanging out in the halls. The reunion of mother and child. Finals of the big dance.
To find out more about Norman Maine, read our introduction, visit her full catalogue and follow her on Twitter at https://twitter.com/missvickilester.
Mrs. Norman Maine, a native of Seattle Washington, the land of fog, coffee and flying salmon, awoke as an adult, like Athena, from Andy’s head during a difficult period in his life, shortly after moving to Alabama.
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