If you like ‘theatre,’ watch this parody of the classic theater

Being involved in any level of theater production requires hard work and flexibility. People who audition and volunteer for crew positions are often some of the most passionate, eccentric people in their communities, and the strange things that happen during training often reflect that strangeness. The release of Theater Take a hilarious look into the process while counselors and young campers work to save their camp from being closed, joining many of the other films about the play. The absolute peak of the comedies showcasing the process of putting on the play, however, is Wait for Guffman. This film features a cast of some of the most talented improvisational comedians, and their collaborative efforts result in an honest and brutal behind-the-scenes look into community theater that everyone should see before seeing the more modern experience in Theater.


Practice plays are hotter than performances.

Christopher Guest in 'Waiting for Guffman.

Those who have been involved in community theater before know about the drama and crises that occur almost daily during rehearsals. Actors make mistakes, parts break, costumes and props are missing or broken, and that’s just the average disappointment of every production. The relationship between everyone involved and the daily experiences that the cast and crew bring with them to rehearsal add to the many unpredictable experiments that the production must work through before reopening. This is where Wait for Guffman Put itself far above and beyond the other films on the play. Their play on the 150th anniversary of Blaine, Missouri, hits just about the roadblocks you can imagine on opening night.

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Likes a lot American Idol, this film shows in some shocking ways how the audition process works, with some showing experiments that have no business on any stage. Attempts at Corky St. Clair (Christopher Guest) made in the community to fill some of the roles shows that the director works hard to find the right person for each role. The process of actors learning their lines and choreography shows how the play has been polished, especially at the beginning when the actors are still learning everything. The community theater aspect that this film does so well is portraying the sudden changes that are necessary when a cast or crew quits a show and what it feels like is the end of the world for everyone involved. Adding an extra layer of drama to this story is how Corky tries to invite Broadway producer Mr. Guffman in hopes that they will bring their play to New York and make them all famous. This increases the emotional intensity of everyone involved, making them more invested in the success of their production than a regular community theater troupe. For anyone who has never been involved in community theater but wants to know what the process of putting on theater is like, this film is the most accurate depiction available today.

Improvised dialogue elevates this film above the rest

Ron and Sheila Albertson auditioning for Waiting for Guffman
Image via Warner Bros.

This movie is directed by and stars Christopher Guest, and his talent in creating stories is uncanny. What really makes this movie work, is the amazing improvisational skills of the entire cast. There was no script written for this film, so the actors were given a basic definition of what their characters were trying to accomplish in each scene. The ability of these actors to remain in character while creating dialogue spontaneously makes their entire performance more believable than when the actors deliver the lines specifically as they are scripted.

David Cross In the movie only about a minute, but his spiel about the alien landing on Blaine is completely unforgettable. Eugene Levy playing the role of Dr. Allen Pearl, a dentist who always wanted to act on stage. The physical weirdness that Levy adds to this character alone gives the audience plenty of reasons to laugh, but the way he portrays a new young actor who catches the acting bug is nothing short of brilliant. He represents the perfect audience in this film. Catherine O’Hara And Fred Willard Play as Sheila and Ron Albertson, a couple who own a tour company in town, but are better known in Blaine as veteran actors who have performed in many plays already staged for the community. The dynamic relationship these two create for their characters brilliantly portrays the big fish in the small pond, especially as they see themselves as bigger fish than they actually are. Parker Posey Play as a young ingénue who works at the local Dairy Queen. Her aloof attitude and love for being on stage brings a very fun energy to the film. Whenever the actress is faced with disappointment, she tries her best to keep moving forward without showing that she is deeply saddened by those setbacks.

Corky St.  Claire runs her Hollywood shop in anticipation of Guffman
Image via Warner Bros.

Christopher Guest is truly the star of this film, and a huge amount of his work is evident. The monologues he has about his past experiences in the theater, his plans for the play, his criticism of their progress, and then stepping into one of the unexpected roles make for some of the most painfully funny moments in the story. He took every aspect of putting this play together as seriously as a heart attack. Everything he says and does is just too dramatic, which is all right for the role of a community theater director. This role is nothing like who he is in real life, but he holds his character so well that you can’t tell. He proved himself to be the king of improvised comedy in this film as well as many other films he has directed, written or acted in, such as: The best in the show Or Touch the spine.

Producing a play is a uniquely rewarding experience

Meeting the cast and crew in waiting for Guffman
Image via Warner Bros.

Not much has changed about putting together a community theater production since this movie came out in 1997. Small stages, cheap performance effects, and makeshift dressing rooms are all true to real community theater. Which movie do you like? Wait for Guffman portray very well is the whole experience of being in the play. All the trials and tribulations that add to the joy and satisfaction felt after a great performance are perfectly encapsulated in this film. The play in this film shows the lingering effects a play has on a person long after the play is over. Performing on stage provides a type of adrenaline rush that is completely unique from anything else, and takes a level of courage and consciousness that creates a sense of accomplishment that you can’t find anywhere else. Theater Looks like another good example of this experience, but before you go out to see it, you should really take the time to soak in the bright improvised in. Wait for Guffman.

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