Way Off Broadway, episode 9: well, howdy, Miss Gulch
After most of the cast was left humiliated by Sarina’s impromptu report cards last week, they’ve only got a few minutes to get over it—curtain goes up in about three weeks. Unfortunately, some are finding it hard to recover from the sting: Jodi is losing sleep; Sandra fears she can’t live up to her stellar standard; and Cowardly Lion Michael thinks he was unfairly ambushed. “Bad marks don’t make me work harder,” says Taz. Hmm? Let’s get this straight: she doesn’t want to do the work, but wants the good marks? And if she doesn’t get them, she’s going to keep doing, um, nothing?
Even though Taz is continuing to play the fool, there are some people, like Bernie, who legitimately want to do better. He’s just one in a constant stream of cast members at Sarina’s house for intense, around-the-clock, one-on-one rehearsals. But Bernie thinks Sarina isn’t taking him seriously, and the completely natural nervous tick that causes him to shut his eyes when he speaks is part of the problem. Sarina isn’t having that on stage and decides to shriek every time he doesn’t comply. Because of this setback and his general lack of stage presence, Bernie enlists acting coach Tom Diamond to help him uncover the grand motivation behind his role: to get Dorothy home. Oy.
Back in the church basement, everyone’s indulging in the world’s oldest (and most enjoyed) pastime: gossip. While everyone might not be good at what they’re doing in the show, they’re certainly good at talking about all the drama, especially when it’s about Taz, who isn’t returning any messages or emails and has gone AWOL. “If she’s being a bit of a diva, then I’m pissed,” says LeeAnne. Now you’re pissed? She’s been a diva from day one. Clare, who’s remained relatively under the radar, fills in for Taz as Miss Gulch, and the girl brings her A-game. “We all just felt a bit relieved that she executed the role without all this drama,” says Sarina. And Clare can ride a bike without freaking the heck out. (We knew Taz was going to be a problem from the beginning.)
There’s another problem: Jon, the Scarecrow, has a “really important” commitment that will make him miss dress rehearsal the day before the big show. (What could be so important?) Turns out, Jon tutors a little boy and dress rehearsal conflicts with a Christmas concert the two are performing in for the Toronto City Mission. (We feel like monsters.) It’s an awful predicament, and it causes a big divide among the cast, but why isn’t anyone suggesting they just change the date of the dress rehearsal? (Spoiler: no one ever makes this suggestion, and the drama continues.) It feels like the cast is falling apart. Will Taz be back? Will Clare still get her role even if the temperamental diva returns? Will Jon develop superpowers that allow him to make both performances?
LeeAnne goes to see her vocal coach/mentor/friend Linda (her “singing mother”). It’s a good move because we instantly see the young starlet-in-training opening up. At rehearsals, she performs “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” and we like it a lot. Sheila’s right when she says LeeAnne finally has “that vulnerability.” Everyone is floored and thankful for the breakthrough—except Michael, the Lion, who’s just leaning against the wall chewing gum with his hands in his pockets. Dude!
Frank. “I don’t think that anything Sarina said would have been different than what she’s trying to learn about herself,” he says about Taz’s “report card” from last week. Although we don’t see much of him, we appreciate the levelheaded real talk.
Michael, the ensemble member. We’re thrilled that he’s actually getting out there, but he schedules a meeting with a top talent agent without a picture or resumé.
Taz. We can empathize with being knocked down and/or wanting to press pause on life, but, unfortunately, we’ve got to peel ourselves off the ground and keep looking forward. Taz needs to step it up.