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Review: High Praise For Stacey Maltin's TRIPLE THREAT

A cinematic ode to theatre and the dreams and realities that imbue it with energy and vitality.

Review: High Praise For Stacey Maltin's TRIPLE THREAT

Michael Shurtleff, a giant in the world of Broadway casting, wrote the following: "We don't live for realities, but for the fantasies, the dreams of what might be. If we lived for reality, we'd be dead, every last one of us. Only dreams keep us going...When you are acting, don't settle for anything less than the biggest dream for your character's future."

Contained in these words of wisdom, I think, are the seeds of tension in TRIPLE THREAT, Stacey Maltin's first feature film as a director.

Already in her own right the embodiment of her movie's title ~ writer, actress, and producer/co-founder with Margarita Zhitnikova of Besties Make Movies ~ Maltin shines in her role as Chloe, an aspiring artist with big dreams of Broadway.

The fulfillment of her dream rests on the success of a musical named Firefly, The Island of Useful Misfits that she and her best friend Maggie (Zhitnikova) have written and coproduced.

Firefly is in itself a metaphor for the real-life drama and tensions of the artist's life that is at the heart of the film. It's a brilliant device that Maltin employs for accentuating the balancing act between fantasy and reality that exists on both an imaginary island and the real stage. It is also a grand platform for featuring the remarkable talents of fellow thespians, Sara Andreas's high-octane and sensual choreography, and the soaring music (Piece of Me, sung by Aury Krebs) of Sam Carner and Derek Gregor.

But, I digress. Back to the story!

It begins at a rooftop fundraising party for the new musical. Amidst a celebratory and high-flying crowd, Chloe and Maggie meet Gus (Jay DeYonker). When, out of the blue, the play's lead (Aramie Payton) cuts out of the show, Gus becomes the go-to guy for his replacement. In due course, they forge a bond that will carry them ten years later to the bright lights of stardom and a dream fulfilled, with Maggie and Gus as the central performers of Firefly.

It is axiomatic that life in the theatre does not come without sacrifices, a reality best illustrated in Gus's unexpected desire to have a child.

The timing of Gus's decision is hardly propitious. A couple of business-savvy producers (Catherine Curtin and Neal Lerner) have approached the team with high hopes for Firefly and their own ideas about how to make it even more marketable. In what has been a complicated relationship from the start, Gus's decision has all the flavor of betrayal. His refocusing suggests that he's not as committed to the production as he should be. Nevertheless, he asks Chloe to donate her egg and Maggie to carry the child. And, they agree.

As the story unfolds and fantasies clash with realities, the quality and depth of relationships are tested and not one character settles for anything less than the biggest dream they had for their future.

Matlin has delivered a beautifully crafted film that is, in the end, a love story within a love story within a love story. With finely defined characters matched by solid performances, snappy music, and camera work (Dani Tenenbaum and Joel Crane) that highlights the motions and emotions of its players, TRIPLE THREAT is a welcome reminder of the energy and hope that is the lifeblood of theatre.

At a time when the Broadway League has officially extended the theatre shutdown to June 2021 and the future of the business model is up in the air, such a reminder is refreshing and essential.

TRIPLE THREAT is scheduled for screening at BelAire Diner Drive-In (31-91 21st Street, Astoria, New York) on October 11th.

Lead cast

Stacey Maltin

Jay DeYonker

Margarita Zhitnikova as Maggie

Mark St. Cyr

Gina Naomi Baez

Yurel Echezarreta

Creative team

Directed by Stacey Maltin

Written by Stacey Maltin & Jay DeYonker

Produced by Jackie Schwartz, Margarita Zhitnikova, Stacey Maltin, Martha Frances Williams, Carrie Radigan

Cinematography: Dani Tenenbaum, Joel Crane

Editing: Jordan Bayne

Original Score: Elizabeth Phillipson-Weiner

Firefly the Musical Music: Carner & Gregor, Dana Aliya Levinson, Judith Moy

Choreography: Sara Andreas

Photo credit to Besties Make Movies

From This Author - Herbert Paine

Herb Paine ~ Herb has served as Senior Contributing Editor and lead reviewer for BWW's Phoenix Metro Region since 2014. He has been acclaimed as BEST THEATRE CRITIC by PHOENIX magazine's... (read more about this author)

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