Sunday, July 30, 2017

Film Review: Backstage Antics Abound in OPENING NIGHT

Topher Grace. Photos courtesy of Wolfe Video

Every theatre production comes with its share of backstage drama. One Hit Wonderland, the Broadway musical comedy depicted in Gary De Leon and Greg Lisi’s indie film Opening Night is no exception. Sex, drugs, and crazy characters collide in this rousing tongue-in-cheek comedy full of splashy production numbers and entertainment in-jokes. It’s a movie for, and about, theatre people – their quirks, their insecurities, and above all, their passions. No one escapes unscathed; not the aging leading lady (Anne Heche as Brooke), the over-the-top chorus boys (including Taye Diggs), the foul-mouthed producer (Rob Riggle), or the bitchy bombshell (Lesli Margherita).

Topher Grace (funnier than ever) stars as Nick, an actor who choked in his Broadway debut a year ago and now works as the stage manager for One Hit Wonderland, a jukebox musical based on a series of Top 40 pop songs that were the only hit for the groups that recorded them. His deadpan responses to everyone’s ridiculous problems keeps them all in check but the task proves more difficult when he finds out the leading man (JC Chasez in a priceless parody of himself) has made a play for Chloe, Brooke’s understudy and his former girlfriend (Alona Tal), for whom he still has feelings.

JC Chasez

When Brooke gets knocked out by a giant chopstick, Chloe is thrust into the spotlight and finds that fame isn’t quite what she thought it would be, while Nick gets one more shot to drop his cynicism and go for what he truly wants.

Music video director Isaac Rentz brings a stylish cool factor to the storytelling in his feature film debut. He magnifies the humor by focusing on the offbeat nature of the characters in a realistic way, which heightens the absurdity of their actions. Plus, you get to see some bona fide Broadway babies like sexpot Lesli Margherita (Matilda The Musical) and a fierce Taye Diggs (Rent, Hedwig and the Angry Inch) in all their triple threat glory.

Theatre people will eat it up.

Taye Diggs (center)

Anne Heche

JC Chasez and girls

JC Chasez (center) and cast

The 83-minute R-rated film is set to release August 1st on DVD in the U.S. via Wolfe Video.

Directed by: Isaac Rentz
Produced by: Alex Garcia, Topher Grace, Daniel Posada, Jason Tamasco
Written by: Gerry De Leon, Greg Lisi
Starring: Topher Grace, Anne Heche, Alona Tal, JC Chasez, Lauren Lapkus, Taye Diggs, Paul Scheer, Rob Riggle, Brian Husky, Lesli Margherita
More Info: WolfeVideo

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