Monday, October 15, 2007
On the road
I love the PBS series "Broadway: The American Musical," so I'm really looking forward to another, albeit much shorter, Great White Way-themed documentary out on DVD this week, "ShowBusiness: The Road to Broadway."
In a behind-the-scenes look, director and Tony-winner Dori Berinstein captures the 2003-2004 theatrical season's hopes, dreams, hits and flops. Artists, producers critics and fans all get a say. She focuses on four musicals: the soon-to-be behemoth "Wicked," adult-themed puppet show "Avenue Q," Tony Kushner's civil-rights era tale "Caroline, or Change," and the Boy George/Rosie O'Donnell collaboration "Taboo."
The film's Web site describes it as "a feature-length documentary that examines the annual influx of ambitious, star-crossed hopefuls, scrambling for the high-board to make their big leap into everlasting limelight. It could be any season, because this phenomenon continues as faithfully and ritualistically as swallows’ return to Capistrano."
The Washington Post's Philip Kennicott reviewed the film in June, saying ShowBusiness is "filled with neurotic people in greasepaint, some of them charming, most of them amusing, and by the time you've spent an hour and a half with them, you're more than invested in their lives and cares." On filmcritic.com, Chris Barsanti credits Berinstein with "a good feel for what is the overriding emotion of Broadway at any given time, most especially at the loosely-defined summer start of a new season: fear."
Extras accompanying the 104-minute film include an hour of deleted scenes and a commentary track with Berinstein, actor and coproducer Alan Cumming, and Avenue Q co-creator Jeff Marx.
Berinstein also talks about the making of the documentary, and about her career, in this DownStage Center interview. She's also known as cofounder of the summer program for theatrical-loving kids, Camp Broadway, which, alas, I'm too old to attend.
I know ShowBusiness is at the top of my shopping list for Tuesday!