“The Show Must Go On” Movie Review

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“The Show Must Go On” Movie Review

Historic Greenbelt Theatre marquee on premiere night

Historic Greenbelt Theatre marquee on premiere night

Photo by Gosnel McDermott

Historic Greenbelt Theatre marquee on premiere night

Photo by Gosnel McDermott

Photo by Gosnel McDermott

Historic Greenbelt Theatre marquee on premiere night

Nancy Vu, Co-Editor-in-Chief

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Film director Damon Barnes posing on the red carpet

Photo by Gosnel McDermott
Film director Damon Barnes posing on the red carpet

As the screen opened up and the lights in the room began to fade to black, Damon Barnes’s eyes lit up as his first student-produced movie appeared on the screen.

The Show Must Go On, a common theatrical cliche, is now the title of Barnes’s feature length documentary about Eleanor Roosevelt High School’s drama department. The film focuses on the production of the 2014 musical  Hairspray. Showing the hardships along with the heartwarming moments that come with producing a show, Barnes’s film gives a well-rounded experience of being part of the drama team. 

Barnes, who graduated from ERHS in 2016, takes you into the world of theatre as he films the drama club’s journey up until the show’s debut.With little to no help at all, Barnes single-handedly chronicles auditions week, practices, the week leading up to the big night (a.k.a “Hell Week”), and finally, opening night.

“I had help from many people, like my parents, and I had a couple friends help me shoot it, but basically I planned it all myself,” said Barnes. “From start to finish, I did pre-production, production, and edited it all myself.”

While filming the movie took about three months, planning the project and editing it down to perfection took almost two years to finish. Barnes talks in detail about the numerous late nights he faced, trying to make sure the end result nothing less than what he envisioned.

“The week leading up to this,” said Barnes, “I stayed up until 5 A.M. editing.”

Audience members that were aware of Barnes’s project were ultimately impressed by his dedication to the film.

“The fact that knowing everything he went through with this film, and he was still able to do it is probably one of the biggest reasons why I’m here,” said Malik McDermott, a 2016 Roosevelt alumni.

With many humorous moments aided alongside heartfelt ones, the film truly captures the whole experience of what it’s like being a “drama” kid. Never having had that experience, the film made me want to go out and audition for the next school play. But something that I did not expect to be added to the film, something that made the movie hit close to home, was the responses of students in the movie about the effect theatre had on them. For many of the students, drama was an outlet from the stresses of school, and a safe zone for the students to freely express themselves. The film’s targeted audience, according to Barnes, are “mainly theatre students, and people in education and positions of power to see how the arts affect the students.”

“Since the arts are more targeted during budget cuts,” said Barnes, “this [film] could be something that could bring awareness to how important they are.”

After the movie, I caught up with senior Emma Jett, who had a recurring role in the film, to talk about how she felt about the movie.

“I think it’s really cool, because a lot of the time we don’t get the attention that we probably should be getting,” said Jett. “This is bringing to light the stuff we do and how important it is, not just to our school, but to schools around the country.”

Although a student-produced movie, this film undoubtedly puts a perspective on the undervalued role the arts have on a student’s education. While not only having a message to convey to its audience, the film evokes emotion from the crowd, whether it be tears or laughter. I hope to see other Damon Barnes productions in the future.

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