“Show Business – A Season to Remember” – A Review
Producer-director Dori Berinstein’s full-length documentary “Show Business” is certainly a movie to remember. The film, which won the Grand Jury prize for best documentary at the Florida Film Festival, packs the 2003-2004 season’s worth of rehearsals, performances, reviews, and awards into 104 minutes of excitement.
In fact, Berinstein whittled down nearly 400 interviews and 400 hours of footage to focus on four major musicals produced that year: the $3.5 million “Avenue Q,” “the $7.5 million “Caroline, Or Change,” the $10 million “Taboo,” and the $14 million “Wicked.” She follows their stars, producers, writers, and directors as they struggle through the season with their eyes on the prize, i.e., The Tony Awards.
“Show Business” is like having a VIP All Access Backstage pass to see what goes on behind the curtain at Broadway’s biggest shows. In addition to Kristin Chenoweth, Tonya Pinkins and other stars attached to the shows, Broadway storytellers including Alan Cumming, Chris Boneau and William Goldman provide their insights, theater critics share their opinions, and theater-goers such as Billy Jean King put in their two cent’s worth.
It’s also great fun to see “Taboo” producer Rosie O’Donnell and composer/lyricist Boy George share their thoughts on how the critics and crowds react to their gender-bending production that stars a London unknown, Euan Morton, in an uncanny performance as the famed lead singer of Culture Club.
Berinstein expertly weaves the stories together chronologically and emotionally. You can’t help but share the hope, elation, fear, and disappointment of all the Broadway players, despite which particular show you’re hoping will win.
Similarly, the theater critics come across as real people trying to do their best at their jobs. During four separate meetings at various points during the season, several top theater critics and columnists meet for lunch to talk about the current status of Broadway shows. They criticize, but sympathize. They’re flabbergasted by public taste. They argue with each other. But mostly, they just love good theater.
When it comes to good theater and good film, Berinstein’s got them both covered. And she promises even more; some of those missing 398 hours of footage will appear on the DVD.
Screened March 29, 2006
Florida Film Festival
Copyright 2006 Leslie Halpern
Central Florida entertainment writer Leslie Halpern is the author of more than 1,600 articles in trade and consumer magazines. She wrote the books “Reel Romance. The Lovers’ Guide to the 100 Best Date Movies” (Taylor Trade Publishing), which reviews date movies for couples and suggests romantic ideas inspired by these films, and “Dreams on Film: The Cinematic Struggle Between Art and Science” (McFarland & Company), an analysis of representations of sleeping and dreaming in the movies. Both books are available at Amazon.com. Visit her website at http://home.roadrunner.com/~lesliehalpern