Lovely Signs of Life

I’ve just had the chance to view a screener of Andrew Keenan-Bolger and Adam Wachter’s short film Sign and if I had to sum it up in one word, that word would be “beautiful.”

Sign is the story of a relationship told entirely through sign language. It’s a bold choice, using a language that the vast majority of your audience is likely not to know and to eschew title cards or captions. It is, however, the correct choice.

John McGinty and Preston Sadleir are the couple at the center of the piece and there is never a moment when they are not sublime. McGinty has one of the most expressive faces and, for a young actor, he shows such a masterly of subtleness that I found it difficult to pull my focus away from him. That, of course, would be my loss, as Sadleir matches him note for note.

As a deaf actor, McGinty is, perhaps expectedly, a master signer and his signing is effortless. Sadleir, the hearing actor, who, in the story, learns ASL to better communicate with his new boyfriend, has a nice arc as you watch the clumsy early signing become more and more deft as the story progresses.

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Preston Sadleir (l) is Ben and John McGinty is Aaron in the terrific short film, Sign.

Keenan-Bolger is, of course, one of Broadway’s Keenan-Bolger siblings whose individual and collective talents seem utterly boundless. He has, in addition to acting and singing and dancing, made quite the second career as a content creator, director, YA author, and filmmaker. He’s a dab hand behind the camera as well as in front. A gifted comedic actor (do yourself a favor and watch him in the web series Submissions Only, which he co-created with Kate Wetherhead), he shows a more sensitive and mature side here. His direction is smart and his cinematography shows he’s ready for a full-length project next.

Don’t think he’s given up the cheeky wit, though. Here, Sadleir’s Ben is seen teaching himself ASL with a Signing for Dummies book; our main couple watch a program on television that’s actually another Keenan-Bolger short, The Ceiling Fan; and he even puts his real-life boyfriend in as a Grindr trick!

Sign is billed as a “silent film,” but that’s giving short shrift to Wachter, whose score is note perfect throughout. It is the foundation upon which these vignettes rest and it seems to me that it functions more than mere underscoring and, instead, buttresses the scenes as a recitative for sign language. His variations on the same musical theme work to ensure that this series of short, disjointed scenes mesh together in a cohesive whole. It might help that Wachter wrote the story as well.

The “truth in journalism” part of this is that I had access to the screener because I gave to the crowd funding initiative for this film. It was worth every penny. Find out if its playing at a local film festival by visiting their website or following the film on Facebook and if you find that it’s playing nearby, then go! You’ll not regret it.

‘Submissions Only’ Returns March 3

BWW TV: SUBMISSIONS ONLY to Return to BroadwayWorld.com for Season 3 on March 3, Check out the New Trailer!|Broadway World

Okay, you know I have a handful of series that I am rabid about, but I think Submissions Only is special. I don’t know how well it plays for those who have never been in “the business,” but I’ve tested it with some “civilians” and I find that, as the old line goes, “funny is funny.”

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Subsmissions Only creators Kate Wetherhead and Andrew Keenan-Bolger.|Image: BroadwayWorld

But for anyone who has ever acted, directed, written, produced or watched theatre: this is so hilarious you might not realize that parts of it weren’t actually drawn from your own real life.

The last time I felt this strongly about a series that got the theatre business dead right, it was Slings and Arrows. (I swear that show contained actual tape recorded scenes of my life!!)

Andrew Keenan-Bolger and Kate Wetherhead are the responsible parties here. I am not-so-secretly in love with both of them! Watch and love!

“Submissions Only” – How’d I Miss This Great Web Series Until Now??

I am completely late to the table on this one, but if you are at all interested in backstage shenanigans, watch Submissions Only, the Web series created by Kate Wetherhead and Andrew Keenan-Bolger.

“Backstage shenanigans” really doesn’t do this series justice in the slightest. It’s ostensibly about a struggling casting agent and his friend, a struggling actress, but it’s a warm, witty, often laugh-out-loud funny look at the relationships — and indignities — that occur backstage and in the wings.

For any of us who are, or have been, “in the business,” you know every one of these people. The last show like this, for me, was the Canadian series Slings & Arrows. For those amongst us who have not spent any time backstage, watch it for the cameos and great writing. There’s hardly a Broadway name that doesn’t get a couple of minutes of face time. I mean, they got Chita Rivera, Harvey Fierstein and Beth Leavel, for God’s sakes!

Wetherhead and Keenan-Bolger are no slouches as Broadway names either. You may have seen her in Legally Blonde or The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee or him in Mary Poppins, Seussical or until recently as Crutchie in Newsies. The “sizzle reel” below is linked straight to YouTube. Watch the entire series at www.submissionsonly.com. You’ll be glad you did.