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BWW Blog: The Week We've All Been Waiting For

Last week, theatre people were gifted not one, not two, but three new productions.

Everyone in the theatre community, fans and professionals alike, have had a grey cloud hanging over our heads since March. Who can blame us? For nine months, we've seen Broadway and regional theaters shut their doors, the Tony awards postponed and restricted, and Zoom productions that, while wonderfully inventive, don't fill the space in our hearts that only live performance can. Yet, last week, we began to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Last week, theatre people were gifted not one, not two, but three new productions. NBC aired its...interesting production of The Grinch and Tina Fey's One Night Only: The Best of Broadway benefit and Netflix's film adaptation of The Prom. While each of these could easily be an individual post, I've decided to combine all of my thoughts here, because if I don't write it down now, my theatre nerd heart may just burst.

NBC's The Grinch

Much like NBC's first live musical outing, 2013's The Sound of Music Live!, this production of The Grinch made some interesting choices, had some great moments, and ultimately, was just fun. Having been deprived of live stage productions for several months, I can't tell if it's the sheer thrill of getting to see new work, or if I'm in the small camp of people who claim that the production was very good. Some of the casting choices, I'll admit, had me more distracted than anything else. As a former Gleek, it was hard to see past Will Schuester, painted green, and staring into the camera with a menacing grin. Meanwhile, the former Twilight fan in me appreciated that Booboo Stewart was given the chance to play yet another anthropomorphic canine sidekick. I also would like to applaud the fact that, even though most of the cast had not been on stage for several months, their performance skills were more than up-to-snuff, especially when tackling the unique harmonies and character work that can come with performing in a Seussian production. All in all, a nice re-entry into the world of live performance.

Tina Fey's One Night Only: The Best of Broadway

I don't have too many specific notes on the broadcast. Not because it wasn't impactful and extremely moving. Quite the opposite. I have little to say because I cried through the whole thing, bawling like a baby from start to finish. The high energy performances, watching the casts be reunited, and the heartfelt testimonials just made my little theatre nerd heart so happy that my eyes couldn't stop watering. I especially loved how they didn't just focus on the most popular broadway shows pre-pandemic, but celebrated Musical Theatre's rich canon as a whole. A Chorus Line may not be one of my favorite shows of all time, but wow, seeing a cast performing One sure opened the floodgates.

Netflix's The Prom

The Prom holds a special place in my heart. While I never got a chance to see the full show on Broadway, I did see the cast perform at 2019's Stars in the Alley, and quickly became a fan. That following summer, as an intern at the Alliance Theatre, I gained a special attachment to the show, which had its out-of-town tryout there in 2016. We even hosted an intern Tonys party and cheered on the Broadway production, despite it being robbed of every extremely deserved award. Needless to say, I've been looking forward to this movie for a long time. So, how did it measure up? Pretty well! Yes, the movie certainly did have its flaws, but all in all, it captured the magic and spirit of the original production. While I was certainly disappointed that the original Broadway cast was not featured, Meryl Streep, Andrew Rannels, Jo Ellen Pellman, and more brought new life and fresh interpretations to the much-beloved characters, and each gave outstanding performances.

Unfortunately, I can't ignore the major controversies surrounding the film. There has been an extremely negative backlash to James Corden's performance in the movie, as he is a straight man playing a very campy presenting gay character. My opinion is simple; is it problematic that they cast a straight man in the role, and would it have been much less offensive had the role been played by a gay man? Yes. Absolutely. However, we can't just bash James Corden's performance, as many have been doing. He did the best that he could with the role. Was he the best choice for this role in particular? Probably not, but that's the fault of casting, not Mr. Corden.

In the end, last week was a big step forward for all theatre lovers. We experience the love and joy of performance for the first time in almost a year. Whether it be live and in person, or pre-recorded on our screens at home, musical theatre is returning with a vengeance. I only hope that it's here to stay.

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