Way Off Broadway, episode 2: everyone is bummed out—except Dorothy and the Wicked Witch
The cliffhanger of last week’s inaugural Way Off Broadway episode was exciting enough: who’s going to land a lead role? This instalment, then, can be summed up using a famous proverb from Russian actor/drama philosopher Konstantin Stanislavski: “Remember: there are no small parts, only small actors.” It’s a fitting sentiment when casting day comes along and all 21 hopefuls are reassembled in a Danforth church basement, but it’s also on our minds because it’s something director Sarina Condello keeps repeating (we get it, some people suck, but not really). We learn more about the hopefuls this week through Sarina’s person-by-person critiques, which amount to a mind-numbingly dull segment in which Sarina talks (and talks), suggesting she loves the sound of her own voice. That said, it’s casting day, which means there’s going to be one lucky Tin Man, Cowardly Lion, Scarecrow and Dorothy. Find out who’s playing what and who won the Least Brains award in our TV brief after the jump.
Our reward for listening to Sarina is getting to witness awkward “home visits” from family and friends who don’t seem to want to be on TV. First, we’re invited into Dorothy hopeful Rebecca’s pad for white wine and what feels like an unpleasant Cougar Town spin-off. Next stop, Michael M.’s parents’ house—he’s returning to the nest while he pursues a performing career after finishing a master’s degree in adult education. His mother is a total buzzkill, reducing Michael’s dream to “a diversion” from reality, but his dad is supportive and stands by his boy’s decision (ah, bless). Spoiler: Sarina dubs him a “triple-threat,” yet casts him as the lead flying monkey.
With a few backstories out of the way, Sarina teaches us about her process, declaring, “I don’t cast like an everyday director.” Okay. She doesn’t cast to the key strengths and/or talents of the group, choosing instead to mess with people’s psyches and get radical. Don’t fret, though, because Sarina has wild costume and role reinterpretation ideas to make the smaller actors stand out. Picture a “Michael Jackson crow” and Kiss-inspired flying monkeys. Fine, we concede, but these roles are chosen for good television, not for the good of the performance. We don’t like that one bit. Although most succeed at concealing their disappointment, it doesn’t go unnoticed. Now the real work—and resentment—begins.
LeeAnne, who deservedly won her “dream role.”
Harvey, the dentist who has played the Lion in at least two other Oz productions and has his own shrine in his office.
Jon, who deserves to be happy, if only to ease the resentment he feels for playing the “role of the first-born son of [his] Chinese parents.”
Sean, the 19-year-old who played the role at eight but who wanted to be cast as the Scarecrow because of his willowy body that sways in the wind.
Michael O., who thought he would make the perfect Tin Man because of his naturally rigid, robotic body movements.
Glinda the Good Witch of the North
Rebecca, who wanted to play Dorothy and is, we assume, sharpening a knife for LeeAnne’s back.
The Wicked Witch of the West
Sandra—whose cackle we liked last episode—jumps up and down, mad-happy, in contrast to everyone else’s disappointment and nerves.
Matt, restaurant manager and resident Aussie, says the truest thing: “I think you [Canadians] are a little more conservative than you think you are. Just FYI.”
Rick, the software exec cast as Dorothy’s Uncle, says he’s doing this show for a moment he can share with his children forever, and to inspire them to always take chances. We love you, Rick!
Sarina. We could be wrong, but it appears like she’s just serving her ego, instead of serving the big show. She publicly, and passive-aggressively, scolds Taz for her anxious behaviour and belittles Debi for her use of meditation to calm the group.
Taz is still acting like a middle-aged brat who hates “playing pretend,” and she unabashedly sits out during warm-up.