Way Off Broadway, episode 10: If I only had a brain!
When we last left off, Jon, the Scarecrow, was facing a tough decision: should he attend the first (and only) dress rehearsal, or possibly lose his lead role to perform at a charity function with Marcus, the “little brother” he mentors? With two weeks to show time, Sarina initially isn’t willing to budge on the issue: either he shows up or he has to step down. This pits Sarina and Jon against each other in a heated passive-aggressive discussion that’s uncomfortable to watch. Ultimately, Sarina tries to do what’s best for the show, but she also wants to show empathy for Jon’s commitment to Marcus. It’s all very touching, but we can’t help getting the impression that Jon is psycho-analyzing her and using some sort of weird mind trickery on her. (After all, he is a professional now.) Is it working? Sarina digs deep and reflects on her life as a single mother from a low-income family and her father issues. In the end, she asks Jon what he wants to do, and he makes it clear that he wants to fulfill his other commitment. After all the drama, Jon is victorious and the cast will just have to make do without him for that one night. (Of course, there were tears.)
The cast doesn’t have long to digest the change of plans before Shelia comes up with what the vigilant narrator refers to as “the perfect solution”: make Jon’s protégé a Munchkin in the play. Wait, what? Last we checked, wasn’t the big issue that Jon would miss the dress rehearsal because of his Christmas concert with Marcus? So if Marcus joins in, won’t they both miss the concert? It makes no sense to us, but at least everyone chills out for a minute. (Note: We don’t get any answers that might help us understand why this is the perfect solution.)
And then Taz pops up again. If you remember, she went M.I.A. during the last rehearsal. Many thought it was because of her D+ grade on the impromptu report card, but she assures her castmates that her absence was a completely unintentional avoidance tactic. (Mmm-hmm.) “But I have treats!” she says, like that’s going to right all her wrongs. When Sandra tries to have a one-on-one with her, Taz is curt: “Stop preaching. I don’t respond to that.” Our only solace comes via the brilliant montage of the troublemaker’s most irksome moments thus far: a series of complaints and objections that include “I don’t do colour” and “I don’t show my arms.” (Thank you, producers.) And then she apologizes, everyone forgives her, and she’s back to playing her role again. Sigh.
Because we’re so bored of Taz-related theatrics, it’s a thrill to see costume designer Gail Leger for brief moments as the cast begins to rehearse in full dress. Considering the tight budget, we are pleasantly surprised to see the racks overflowing with more than 150 costumes. But that doesn’t mean everyone’s loving it: Rebecca thinks her dress is too low-cut (it isn’t); Jodi is having a hard time breathing through a ridiculous ape mask; Sandra’s cape is too long and she’s getting diva-ish about it; Sean’s mom is making his Tinman costume—like she did when he was a child—and the torso is made out of a big plastic garbage bin with holes in it (we can’t help but LOL). Our only gripe is with Dorothy’s dress, which needs a serious edit. Please hike up the hemline a little bit. Please.
The clock is ticking. Will the cast be able to adjust to the costumes and pull off the show? Will Jodi be able to breathe comfortably under the hot stage lights?
Sandra, the Wicked Witch. This week we see Sandra act aloof and unfocused, which is affecting everyone else. We find out that the mom of two has a kidney infection and a food allergy that’s hitting her big time. She’s feeling really weak and worn down; come to think of it, she’s not looking so great either. She still shows up, though, and that’s what matters.
Shelia, the musical director. Frankly, we don’t get enough of her input. She has to lead a cast of amateur singers in a musical and be a mother to her daughter, who’s playing Toto. She comes up with a plan that supposedly saves the dress rehearsal, which makes her the backbone of this operation. (We still have no idea how her plan makes any sense, but it seems to please the cast.)
Jon, the Scarecrow. We really like Jon, but we can’t seem to figure out why he’s been rubbing us the wrong way lately. Maybe it’s the film editing, or maybe it’s remarks like this: “I put people in a difficult position. Maybe it’s selfish. But that’s what I wanted to do.” He makes it very clear that the rest of his life will be there when this play is over, and it’s starting to bug us that he’s treating this experience as something so disposable.