Barb And Star Go To Vista Del Mar – Lovable and Kitschy Good Fun!

Kristen Wiig (L) and Annie Mumolo (R), Photo: Cate Cameron

On the fence of what to watch to keep you entertained, while we collectively, stay home to weather the uncertainty of our existence? Look no further than Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar, starring Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo – the dynamic female duo responsible for the hilarious Oscar-nominated comedy, Bridesmaids, deliver a ridiculous and funny film – yet again. With Writer/Actor/Producer credits under their belt, Mumolo and Wiig, bring a whole new meaning to kitsch – they actually make it cool. According to Mumolo, the completed story for the film took many drafts and years to make, and both her and Wiig were thrilled to see these characters come to life.  

Jamie Dornan, Photo: Cate Cameron

So who are these memorable characters? The premise: Barb and Star have known each for most of their lives and come from the fictitious Midwestern city of Soft Rock, Nebraska. After recently being laid off from their dream job at Jennifer Convertibles, the delightfully chatty middle-aged best friends embark on journey of self-discovery and freedom from inhibitions at the Vista Del Mar resort in Florida. What ensues is a trippy and colorful story of a friendship tested by an amorous encounter with Edgar, played by the charismatic, Jamie Dornan, from the famed 50 Shades of Grey trilogy. Who knew Mr. Grey had comedic timing? Well, the dramatic actor who’s played him in the last 3 titillating films – that’s who. Dornan is fantastic as he sings, leaps, and rolls around in the sand, professing his love for his boss and villain in the movie, Sharon Gordon Fisherman, also played by Kristen Wiig. Wiig’s Fisherman villain is reminiscent of her kooky character, Alexanya Atoz from Zoolander 2. Fisherman’s zany plot to destroy the made-up Floridian city, where Barb and Star are vacationing, is as nutty as her costume and make up, also nothing short of spectacular.

Kristen Wiig (L) and Annie Mumolo (R), Photo: Cate Cameron

Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar serves up the type of escapism and joy a movie should provide. Mumolo and Wiig do a superb job of giving these quirky and enchanting characters, in their late forties, a refreshing narrative injected with marvelous musical numbers. Directed by Josh Greenbaum, and also produced by Will Ferrell and Adam Mckay, the Lionsgate film has a running time of 106 minutes, is currently out on all major streaming platforms, arrives on digital March 26th, and will be out on Blu-ray April 6th. For more information on the Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar, click here.

Review: ‘West Side Story’ – A Modern And Riveting Revival

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Cast of West Side Story, Photo by Jan Versweyveld

It’s challenging not succumbing to presumptions, especially before attending a remake of an iconic musical. Recently, this was my dilemma, before the global pandemic crisis we are all currently facing became our new normal. The latest production of West Side Story by Tony Award-winning director Ivo van Hove (A View From the Bridge, The Crucible) exceeded my expectations and my doubts quickly dissolved. The electrifying young and diverse cast (most making their Broadway debut) blew me away. And, I’m certain you will be too when you experience the flurry of captivating choreography, impassioned acting, and vocal intonations that will permeate the theatre and leave you speechless.

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(L) Isaac Powell as Tony, (R) Shereen Pimentel as Maria, Photo: Jan Versweyveld

The cast, led by Isaac Powell (Once on This Island) as Tony and Shereen Pimentel, (The Lion King) as Maria have undeniable chemistry. Powell and Pimentel play off each other’s acting abilities and are superb as the infamous angst-filled couple. The timeless story of two lovers coming together in the midst of racial conflict between their families couldn’t be timelier. More than 60 years after the critically acclaimed musical, written by Arthur Laurents, composed by Leonard Bernstein with lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, and choreographed by Jerome Robbins made its debut on Broadway and changed American theater forever. Now, it is back to remind us that there is no place for hate and intolerance as these detrimental emotions destroy everything in their path, including love. Originally based on Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, with a storyline focusing on the mistreatment of Puerto Ricans in New York City, the musical’s themes strike a nerve with the rising problem of xenophobia in this country.

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Amar Ramasar, Yesenia Ayala (Center), and West Side Story Cast, Photo: Jan Versweyveld

The phenomenal dancing in this classic Broadway favorite lets audiences follow the otherwise inevitable doomed classic love story. The tantalizing new choreography, by Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker is magnificent. All of the performers glide with fluidity and grace and you can’t keep your eyes off them, especially Amar Ramasar (Bernardo), the classically trained New York City Ballet dancer. Adding to the visual stimulation: the LED screens capturing the dreary backdrops of New York City and handheld cameras projecting each actor’s facial expression up close driving the narrative. After all, this is a modern interpretation of a beloved classic, and new audiences, young and old, will definitely appreciate these additions.

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Dharon E. Jones, Amar Ramasar, and West Side Story Cast, Photo: Jan Versweyveld

West Side Story runs an hour and 45 minutes, sans intermission, and will return on April 12th to the Broadway Theatre in New York City. Yes, a bit of a wait as Broadway actors and staff can’t work from home. If you’d like to donate, please go to Broadwaycares.org. When the lights do come back on, don’t miss Ivo van Hove’s Broadway musical debut with the revival of this widely revered classic and the ageless songs: “America,” “Maria,” and “Tonight,” to sing along. To learn more about the show and get tickets, click here.

Credits: Music: Leonard Bernstein; Lyrics: Stephen Sondheim; Book: Arthur Laurents; Director: Ivo van Hove; Choreography: Anne Teresa De Keermaeker; Set and Lighting: Jan Versweyveld; Costume Designer: An D’Huys; Sound Designer: Tom Gibbons; Video Designer: Luke Halls: Orchestrations: Jonathan Tunick; Music Director and Supervisor: Alexander Gemignani.
Cast: Isaac Powell, Shereen Pimentel, Dharon E. Jones, Yesenia Ayala, Amar Ramasar, Ahmad Simmons, Elijah A. Carter, Danny Wolohan, Jacob Guzman, Kevin Csolak, Matthew Johnson, Zuri Noelle Ford, Daniel Oreskes, Pippa Pearthree, Thomas Jay Ryan.