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12/12/2003 "Way Off Broadway" - an independent rites of passage presentation - CinemaDave

Mar. 31st, 2005 08:26 pm 12/12/2003 "Way Off Broadway" - an independent rites of passage presentation

There is an old adage in show business education that says, "If you want to be a friend and a good teacher, tell your protege NOT to pursue a career in show business." Yet, as my old mentor Mary Helen Rassi used to say, "Know your own success." Writer Director Dan Kay has melded both philosophies in his independent low budget movie, "Way Off Broadway."

"Way Off Broadway" deals with the lives of six college graduates of the performing arts.. Barely surviving two years in reality-land, these yuppies are at that point in their lives in which they must confront their shattered romantic dreams. Unlike the martyred artists of the opera "La Boheme" or the Broadway Musical "Rent," these artisans can call their Mommy for financial assistance. There are times you want to say to some of these characters, "Quit whining and get a real job." This point is punctuated by the film's opening shot featuring the World Trade Center. There are none of the attention seeking rejects from Fox Television's "American Idol" auditions, these lead characters are college educated and therefore should know better.

However Writer/Director Dan Kay has crafted a realistic perspective on the modern starving-artist syndrome, while presenting a romantic comedy with empathetic characters. Working in a bookstore at night, Rebecca (Morena Baccarin) pounds the pavement and waits in line for an audition. Darrin (Brad Beyer) is a struggling playwright who is suffering from writer's block. Jay (Forbes March) is a a blues guitarist who claims to have corporal tunnel syndrome. Jay actually fakes this ailment because he actually fears his future. Ethan (Jordan Gelber) is a graduate assistant at New York University who is neurotic about his carbohydrate intake.

Being old friends, these four people are used to talking bluntly to each other at the local watering hole. Rebecca whines that she is not getting roles because her butt is too big. These leads to a discussion about show business being a non talent based industry. Ethan interrupts this train of thought and creates heated arguments about the artistic merits of Orson Welles and Peter Bogdanovich. Dan Kay's screenplay shines during these exchanges because of the random change of subjects, yet revealing important details about each character's psyche.

"Way Off Broadway" presents characters in growth. A fool from college becomes a generous benefactor in producing Darrin's play in Greenwich Village. Rebecca learns a lesson about confusing her passions for art and relationships. Jay realizes that his freeloading charm actually hinders his maturity as an artist. Ethan uses his knowledge of Orson Welles to woo the red headed girl. Given the glut of big budgeted Hollywood Holiday extravaganzas in the multiplexes these holiday weeks, "Way Off Broadway" provides an alternative behind-the-scenes drama.

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