Way Off Broadway, episode 5: why my little party’s just beginning
We’re about half way to the big show, and since our plucky hopefuls have been rehearsing for several weeks now, it’s time for some serious outside perspective. It’s the moment we’ve really been waiting for: the arrival of vocal coach to the stars Elaine Overholt. For those not familiar with her, here’s a quick look at her client list: Tina Turner, John Travolta, the cast of the movie Chicago and Ray Charles. We all know Sarina and musical director Shelia have their own particular feedback styles, but they’re also too personally invested in this project to be as objective as they otherwise could be. Let’s recap what’s making everyone miserable: Harvey and his “non-lead” role; Michael, the Lion, and his struggles with dancing; and LeeAnne and her stage presence problems. Interestingly enough, Taz is praised for her progress, and we see glimpses of her finally trying to make the jump to shining starlet. It’s a tricky leap to make because Elaine comes in and simply massacres every ego that’s already bruised or prematurely built up. But remember, it’s all for the good of the show.
Our beef this week is with LeeAnne, who suddenly feels confessional (or just full of excuses) about why she can’t seem to get a grasp on the Dorothy character: “I was never a Wizard of Oz kid. I’m just realizing what a big deal it is,” she says. Oh really? Remember how she wanted that role so badly? (And, really, how could someone not fully understand how big of a deal being Dorothy is?). LeeAnne goes on to confess that she has “never gravitated towards ‘Somewhere Over The Rainbow,’ ” and Sarina responds by saying “Riiight” with a finger on her mouth. (Her expression, though, reads: “You are lucky I am not kicking you in the face right now. What in the world am I going to do with you?”) LeeAnne’s problem song is the one the whole show revolves around, so Elaine challenges her to look within and think of her nephew as inspiration. LeeAnne is singing like she’s trying to pass a kidney stone, not looking at rainbows, so Elaine accuses her of schmacting, which basically means “soulless acting.” Can we see what Rebecca would be like as LeeAnne’s understudy? Please?
Our favourite ensemble member, Michael, uses Elaine’s last name as a verb: to Overholt, meaning “to make an otherwise underwhelming performance exponentially better” (within reason, of course). Elaine finally convinces Sandra to believe that she is great as the Witch (like we’ve been saying all these weeks), and to sing with her eyes if she really wants to connect with an audience, and it works. Elaine proceeds to give some vocal realness to our Lion, who is as stiff as a board and gets way too upset when he’s told he doesn’t come off as likable. (You’re fine, relax.) Elaine isn’t blowing smoke up anyone’s backside, amateur or celebrity.
Now that we’ve seen a celebrity vocal coach, dog auditions and icebreakers, heard the excuses and conquered the insecurities, can we get this show on the road? We’re still left with big gaps, like the lack of a theater space and the absence of the highly conceptual costumes we keep hearing about. (We want to see a Michael Jackson crow already.) Elaine said it best to the cast: “That’s what life is all about—it’s going through the fear and just doin’ it anyway.” Amen.
Shelia and Sarina. Our first tie! We still can’t believe Sarina managed to land Elaine Overholt. Bravo! Your cast needed it. Shelia also deserves a nod for choosing the big solo that Harvey, the Wizard, will close the show with. It’s not from the show, but “I’m Always Chasing Rainbows” is an absolutely fantastic song that Harvey nails. (Trivia: Judy Garland sang it).
Harvey. The endearing narcissist is finally starting to become a bit humble, and we prefer him this way. He acts like a mentor to LeeAnne after being Overtholt-ed: “You have to communicate the dream, rather than go to the dream.” After he performs his solo for the first time, Sarina rightfully calls him “the big present we unwrap” at the end of the show. We bet it will be magical.
Taz. Elaine slams Taz’s pride and calls her out: “You are comfortable living in a very negative space,” she says. Complete with a tear-inducing piano solo, Taz has her own revelations during confessional, saying, “You better love yourself because, you know, how else are you going to do it? So that’s what I’m going to try to do.” Then it cuts to a vanity shot of Taz. We’re calling it: this may very well be her only “moment.”