There's A Drag Rendition Of That One-Woman Show From 'La La Land', And It's Hilarious
Spoilers ahead for La La Land.
Ever since La La Land premiered on December 9, 2016, an Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling-shaped cloud has hung over Los Angeles. Some people see it as a godsend—our fair Mayor deemed April 25 as La La Land Day (a publicity event for which the stars of the film couldn’t show up)—and others see it as another example of Hollywood’s desires to whitewash the city and American culture at large. So many questions came out of the film. Does Gosling’s Sebastian have a white savior complex? (yes) Did the film get Angel’s Flight to open up specifically for filming? (also yes) Is Damien Chazelle ever going to drop his obsession with “saving jazz,” a musical genre that literally exists for experimentation and improvisation? (no)
Some people pointed out what is, perhaps, the most egregious error in the entire film. Mia, the aspiring actress played by Stone, decides to take her career into her own hands and produce a one-woman show in the hopes that casting execs will come see her and scout her for the role of a lifetime. The show is called “So Long, Boulder City” and she announces it to her casting contacts via mass email...without bcc-ing:
This is just the beginning. The show itself involves tons of props, way too many costumes, and….actually, no one knows what else it includes. The movie skips over the entire performance. We see Mia’s excitement for the performance and then her disappointment when Sebastian doesn’t show up to see it (hardly anyone else shows, either, prompting her to go back to—you guessed it—Boulder City!). And so presents the biggest question of the entire film: what in the world was Mia’s play?
Comedian/performer Jimmy Fowlie and co-writer/director Jordan Black decided to answer this question. At the Celebration Theater in West Hollywood, Fowlie stars as a drag version of Mia in the writers’ rendition of "So Long, Boulder City." The two take the opportunity to fill in the gaps of Mia's backstory and give us a peek into what the performance must have been like. Mia reveals the truth about her endearing Aunt Genevieve (the one who inspired her to be an actress)— instead of being a nurturing and creative aunt, she was a schizophrenic whose hallucinations Mia claims were performance pieces.
The show also reveals that Mia's absent parents motivated her to seek out a B.F.A. in musical theater, which she describes as "the one thing that makes every Hollywood producer take you seriously." This joke is one of many in the show that will resonate with a particular group of people who live in L.A. If you know about the theater programs at Tisch, Boston Conservatory, and Carnegie Mellon, and if you understand the fear of the word "quirky" in a breakdown of a role, then every joke will land perfectly. If these concepts are foreign to you, the show will still be hilarious, but a few gags may leave you in the dust of the laughter emanating from a very rambunctious crowd.
The best humor comes from Fowlie's physical comedy. His towering frame is in stark juxtaposition to the lithe Stone, and he uses every chance to fill the stage with absurd movements, at times pointing dramatically into the distance. In one of the most reliable bits of the show, he takes an excessive amount of time during a costume change to become Mia's mother, highlighting the obliviousness that lies at the heart of Mia's character.
The script itself also reflects the vapidity and simplicity of Mia's La La Land persona. She hands out proclamations about how lightbulbs are symbols for ideas with as much grace and wisdom as a fake Rupi Kaur poem. She thinks the audience is interested in her story about using grandma's inheritance to pay rent for a Hancock Park apartment, and her attempt to "find love" after ghosting her boyfriend to date someone she's met only a few times.
Fowlie's commitment to Mia's self-absorption never falters and it makes the emotional crux all the more hilarious and devastating. This is punctuated by the incorporation of Sebastian's absence. In one scene, Mia is left to perform the electric slide by herself after he fails to show up (they were supposed to do the dance together). Mia's solo dance goes on and on, and laughter fills the blanks where Sebastian was supposed to be. By the end, Mia has earned both the audience's sympathy and mockery. And Fowlie, in turn, has earned the audience's respect and awe.
The parody was originally scheduled to run for a single weekend, but its growing popularity pushed the theater to add extra dates. It now runs Friday through Sunday until September 3. Tickets are sold out, but standby is available.
"So Long, Boulder City" is showing at the Celebration Theatre, located at 6760 Lexington Ave, Los Angeles. Tickets are $25. Check the website for availability.