Director Tom Gustafson has adapted the off-Broadway musical, “Hello Again” into a delightful film about ten different characters that are connected through an erotic chain of pansexual trysts that span the 20th century. This a musical daisy chain with a wonderful cast made up of Martha Plimpton, Cheyenne Jackson, T.R. Knight, Rumer Willis, Jenna Ushkowitz, and Audra McDonald.
We look at a time that is not far behind us on which music and sex come together to show us the human desire for connection with others and that this connection goes beyond sex and sexual orientation.
Arthur Schnitzler’s classic play depicts a series of interconnected sexual liaisons has been adapted innumerable times since its 1920 premiere. It also has inspired an equally countless number of film, theater and literary works, including this 1993 musical that debuted at Lincoln Center. It is a series of ten vignettes that take place over different decades of the 20th century. One performer from each scene appears in the next, often as a character similar to the one they’ve just played.
Unfortunately the individual segments aren’t very impactful. Some, such as the 1920s-set one in which Rumer Willis plays a married woman who enjoys a liaison with a younger lover in a movie theater, or the disco-era scene featuring Cheyenne Jackson as a music producer who does more than tweak knobs for his singer and lover (McDonald), are somewhat engaging. Others are risible, such as the segment set on the Titanic in which T.R. Knight plays a closeted first-class passenger who doesn’t tell his male lover from steerage that the ship is sinking, just so that they can enjoy a quickie before it does. Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On” will never sound the same again.
There are some impressive performances. McDonald, who also plays the lover of a female senator (Martha Plimpton, who also appears in the film’s ineffective framing device), not only acts but sings up a storm, especially in the pastiche music video featuring a new number, “Beyond the Moon,” written especially for the movie. Plimpton is impressive as always, and there are striking turns by Sam Underwood as a cross-dressing prostitute and Jenna Ushkowitz as a particularly solicitous home healthcare aide.