I’m not counting 1984’s This Is Spinal Tap, of course, which was co-written but not directed by Guest. I would also argue that Waiting for Guffman is much more the blueprint for Guest’s future work than Tap. This could be argued. “I know, I know,” I am constantly saying to the rockumentary’s loyal fans, “I know Spinal Tap goes to Eleven.”
The Plot in Brief: The small town of Blaine, Missouri stages a musical extravaganza telling its story on the occasion of its sesquicentennial. Local theatre wunderkind Corky St. Clair (Guest) writes and directs the show, which features a full roster of local talent. Dentist Allan Pearl (Eugene Levy), travel agents Ron and Shelia Albertson (Fred Willard and Catherine O’Hara), Dairy Queen clerk Libby Mae Brown (Parker Posey), and genial retired taxidermist Clifford Wooley (Lewis Arquette) all perform in the show. St. Clair uses his New York connections to convince theatrical producer Mort Guffman to fly out to see the show. Will our plucky cast of Missorians be headed to... Broadway?
Beyond the hilarity of this very talented cast and the twists and turns of its crazy narrative, the thing I like best about this film is its theme of artistic endeavors bringing people together. I was lucky enough to direct some shows at the high school where I used to teach, and I can say from experience that Kurt Vonnegut’s adage in his short story “Who Am I This Time?” is very true: “There isn’t any other way to get to know a lot of nice people faster than to be in a play with ‘em.”
I have such vivid memories of every show that I appeared in when I was in high school. I recently celebrated my Sixtieth birthday, and three people at that party were friends I first made in high school dramatics. We have now been friends for 46 years. Although I met my wife in high school, we didn’t start dating until she directed something I wrote at the Armory Free Theater at the University of Illinois. I first met our very own Patrick Bromley when he appeared in my Variety Shows when he was in high school. Theater brings people together. Sometimes, it’s like soldiers in wartime, going through hardships together.
Join us for a... unique... theatrical experience this Saturday for F This Movie Fest. There’s no other place I would rather be.