Last month, just days before I went to New York, I was invited to see a screening of the new documentary film by Dori Berinstein, “Show Business: The Road to Broadway.” Having been involved in theatre since I was 5 (playing the meaty role of a bush), this is a world that is fairly familiar to me, albeit on a much smaller scale. However you don’t have to be a theatre “geek” to enjoy this visually rich and engrossing observation of the bumpy road to Broadway.
The documentary focuses on the journey of four shows from inception to Tony night during Broadway’s 2003-4 season, which turned out to be one of the most high profile seasons in recent history. This was mostly due to Rosie O’Donnell investing $10 million dollars into the doomed Boy George musical “Taboo.” But it was also the year of “Wicked” and “Avenue Q” both of which had major Tony buzz and are now very successful Broadway shows. Tony Kushner and Jeanine Tesori also attempted to challenge theatre goers with the civil rights charged musical, “Caroline, or Change.”
More on “Show Business” after the jump.
The passion and struggle of the actors, the risk and reward of the investors, “Show Business” captures it all. Pared down from over 250 hours of footage, Dori Berinstein has beautifully edited together the story of the two essential players of a Broadway production – the ‘Show’ and the ‘Business.’
Although the film is definitely a love letter to the world of theater, it’s tone remains fairly neutral throughout, seamlessly taking the viewer along for the ride. The film does include several scenes with top theatre critics discussing the shows over dinner, but their opinions are treated as just another piece of the puzzle; Not with any more (or less) importance.
Getting to jet off to New York and see a few shows a couple of days after seeing “Show Business” was the perfect sequel to the film. Which is really what this film is all about: the backstage drama, feeling the hope and seeing the creative process unfold is just to wet your pallet before you have a chance to see a Broadway show for yourself. It is live theatre after all and that is really the only true way to share in the excitement and unique experience of a Broadway production. Although ‘Show Business’ does come pretty damn close.
“Show Business: The Road To Broadway” is playing now in selected theaters nationwide.