Brought to you by FEMA: "One Night Only"
I keep meaning to point out this great BET reality TV show (great by reality TV standards, anyway), called "One Night Only." (Tuesdays 7:30 ET) (I caught it randomly one night while on the treadmill at the gym, and it inadvertently extended my workout by 30 minutes. If that's not an endorsement, I don't know what is...).
The show follows a group of New Orleans students from McDonogh 35 Senior High School as they attempt to stage a production of "Dreamgirls." One of the best parts of the show is witnessing the resilience of these students, who, when not at school, are filmed either in their FEMA trailers, in their friends' FEMA trailers, or standing outside a FEMA trailer of a friend or family member. Their entire lives are constrained by physical circumstance, but despite all these Katrina-related struggles, they're still kids - hopeful (mostly), full of energy, and alternately nervous and excited about their upcoming performance.
The plot is artificially thickened, of course, by the presence of 'real' Dreamgirls Jennifer Hudson and Broadway legend George Faison, among others, but it hardly needed to be. Still, some of the most hilarious moments can be credited to Faison, who's brought in to bring the performances up to speed. He's a theatre queen through and through, but he admits he was unprepared to face real-life drama on this scale -- in scene after scene, the guy just can't stop crying.
In a made-for-reality-TV moment that's equal parts awkwardness and tenderness, Troy Poplous, the no-nonsense McDonogh teacher and local director, finally feels compelled to give him a little hug as Faison stands sobbing on the porch of someone's flooded and abandoned New Orleans home. When Faison thanks him -- "I want to thank you, too, for letting me be myself" -- Poplous tells him, "Aw man, that's what it's all about."
I seriously doubt whether that was ever true on Broadway, but I'm glad it's still true down here.
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