There is something magical when the lights dim and the audience settles into momentary silence. The heavy curtain purrs as it takes flight and there standing before you is a scene that wakens into life. I love the experience of live theater (such an odd term that suggests there is dead theater) with actors claiming their parcels of stage land. My close friend, who was a theater major, has the most fascinating stories about theater life; I love listening to them whenever the subject comes up. Finding this treasure of a film was sweet, since I backed away from it when I saw Zac Efron’s (The Lucky One, 17 Again) name attached to it. But gratefully the story captured my attention by combining two of my favorite things: movies and theater. Zac played Richard Samuels, a boy who skipped a school day to venture into the heart of New York City and the lights of Broadway. As a 17 year old Mr. Efron was okay for this role, even with his somewhat thin acting abilities. I will cut him some slack here; since he, along with the majority of the cast, had to go up against a tour de force performance by Christian McKay (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Mr. Nice) as Orson Welles. I was riveted to my flat screen by Mr. McKay’s performance. The movie was set in the 1930’s when young Orson was opening up his Mercury Theater, with a modern version of Julius Caesar. There are thousands of stories about Mr. Welles’ ego and character; they all got played out with Christian’s amazing acting. He dominated every scene, every line, every actor; he even looked like the real Orson. Everyone was a pawn to this bombastic man, even Zac’s character who was hired on the spot to be in the opening night production. I will say Claire Danes (Stardust, Temple Grandin) did an admirable job playing Orson’s ambitious assistant, Sonja Jones. This was an excellent movie to watch; that combined my love of theater and movies into one decent production.
2 3/4 stars — DVD