Saturday, October 25, 2008

Is "Were the World Mine" already HSM4?

The Closing Night Film for Reel Affirmations 18 in Washington was held at the Harman Theater near Chinatown. The film was a coy musical “Were the World Mine”, directed by Tom Gustafson, due out on DVD from Wolfe and with a platform theatrical release in Landmark theaters starting in December. Technically, the projection at the Harman did not use full use of the screen space, and cropped the image vertically to achieve the 1.85:1 aspect. (The film is so rich in set design and subtle colors that I think it could have used the fill 2.35:1 that is common in musicals, although I understand that HSM3 [below] didn’t use it.) The production company is Speak Productions.

The film could be construed, jokingly, as a gay “High School Musical 4,” with Tanner Cohen (Timothy) as the lead instead of Zac Efron. (The film didn’t call the lead character Troy, but it could have.) But it is also a bit of a satire in the “Kids in America” vein, with some Shakespeare thrown in.

OK, here’s the set up. Timothy, is a not so closeted gay senior at a prep high school (in the country, but otherwise worthy of “Gossip Girl” – there’s just no Blake Lively around to write the mobile blog). He senior English teacher challenges him to lead in the senior play, Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” He says he had never wanted to be an actor (I didn’t either when I put makeup on my hands in seventh grade for “The Sunbonnet Girl”). But he suddenly takes to the role of make believe. The movie moves into an alternate space of dreams, or maybe it is real. He uses a magic violet potion from the props for the play to shoot into people’s eyes (dangerous) and make them gay. Pretty soon the entire rugby team is like an band of brothers or perhaps a Greek army of lovers. Timothy really does fall in love with one of the teammates. The mention the fact that in Elizabethan times, the female parts were often played by men, which gives some opportunity for forced intimacy. (In fact, the Harman Theater recently put on a stage all male “Romeo and Juliet”.) All the elements come together with the ending where the Shakespeare play and "musical" are performed.

Tanner Cohen plays the lead with a lot of charisma and a kind of Efron-like energy. However, had the drag queen at Town DC had at him, his shirt would have needed to come off. But the movie stays well within PG-13 sensibilities.

The original music was composed by Jessica Fogle. The film does not use Mendelssohn's famous theater piece, although it does use some Bach.

The director Tom Gustafson was available for an extensive Q&A after the movie tonight in Washington DC.

This feature is an expansion of a short film called "Fairies" (2003). Logo offers it for sale but does not currently have it available for free viewing. The Logo link is here.

This film might make a good comparison also to "Hamlet 2" (see this blog, Aug. 30). I recall seeing "The Tempest" in Dallas in an arena-type stage and the actors were all suitably costumed and, I must say, prepped. Actors go through a lot.

Picture: The Lansburgh Theater and the Harman Center for the Arts.

Update: May 28, 2009

AOL reproduced an AP story "Gay Male Voted Prom Queen in L.A.", link here. The student was Sergio Garcia at Los Angeles Fairfax High School.

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