A Backstage Drama
Director Henry Jaglom takes us backstage at a production of “The Rainmaker” that is being put on by a small theater group. Maggie (Tanna Frederick) is torn between keeping the failing production going with her presence, or pursuing a TV role, opposite hunk Stewart Henry (James Denton), who is doing everything to woo her away. As the two wrestle with their chemistry and conflicting feelings, there are various smaller dramas that orbit around them — Maggie finds herself in a rut with her co-star and longtime boyfriend; the producer will have to close the show if she can’t find a financier, and there’s a romance between two actors that turns violent. Then there is a psychic whose tarot readings keep everyone on their toes.
“Ovation” is a tribute to the theater and to the power of live performance and the bond among performers and crew to the stars on the stage. The film wonderfully captures that there is “no business like show business”. It is a “stubbornly sharp, sincere and distinctive” film.
The theater production has had its share of problems and the main thing it has to offer is the star, Maggie, whom is also the reason why Stewart, a television star, comes backstage to congratulate her. As he flatters Maggie, she is taken in by his smile as well as the promise of a television contract and she begins to fall for him. Alongside of there are several subplots. One of them involves a bad romance between a pushy young actor and his female co-star and another is about the attempts to keep the play afloat. The script uses the theme of the value of art over commercialism yet the film never seems to be advocating anything and is just supposed to be a fun time.
Jaglom’s representation of the theatrical scene feels real and entirely convincing. We do not see much of the actual production and what we do see is structured, organized and controlled to a level of slick proficiency. Jaglom is concerned with what goes on behind the scenes where there is chaos and insecurity and nervous energy that produces art.
The plot moves forward based on its own anxiety that leads to various events and plot twists keep us totally entertained. We never see the production of “The Rainmaker”; rather we only get glimpses of the actors going on-stage and coming off after curtain calls. We are aware that the entire theater complex is under threat of destruction in a secret high-end real estate deal, unknown to the members of the theater company or the play’s producer (Cathy Arden).
It all takes place backstage and in various parts of the theater complex, but we never see any of these people anywhere outside of their natural habitat of the theater.
Denton and Frederick both give great performances that are filled with chemistry and are fun to watch. However the others are a bit more awkward. Personally I had a great time watching it.