‘The Promenade’ unleashes its stars in an infectious, high-energy musical

Director Ryan Murphy is not recognized for understatement, however at the least right here he is on turf nearer to “Glee” than “American Horror Story.” Maybe foremost, he has offered a best-seat-in-the-house view of the 2018 Tony-nominated musical, blowing it as much as ranges that would not be doable on stage and may barely be accommodated on a TV display.

The hook of Chad Beguelin, Bob Martin and Matthew Sklar’s manufacturing hinges on a bunch of self-involved Broadway performers who descend on a small Indiana city, searching for an activist trigger and “some little injustice” to handle — looking for the nice publicity that may save their present after a disastrous opening. They decide on serving to Emma (Jo Ellen Pellman), whose announcement that she needed to convey one other lady to the promenade as her date prompted the homophobic PTA president (Kerry Washington) to cancel the occasion solely.

Ellen’s uninvited benefactors, nevertheless, have bother initially placing the lady’s pursuits first, whereas offering a digital clinic on showbiz insecurities and self-obsession. The brightest gentle amongst them, naturally, is Meryl Streep’s Dee Dee, an imperious star with a contact of Norma Desmond in her, who tries to improve her three-star lodge room by brandishing considered one of her conveniently-packed Tonys.

Dee Dee’s companions embody her co-star Barry (James Corden, in an “Into the Woods” reunion), refrain lady Angie (Nicole Kidman) and the less-heralded Trent (Andrew Rannells), who name-drops attending Julliard inside minutes of assembly anybody. They’re aided by the college’s progressive principal (Keegan-Michael Key), an avid Broadway fan, and fewer so by Emma’s girlfriend (Ariana DeBose), who’s extra apprehensive about popping out.

The present options some stunning and buoyant songs — “It is Time to Dance” among the many latter — however “The Promenade” actually sparkles with its show-business-insider touches and theater references. These vary from Streep’s preening star (her singing voice has by no means sounded higher, by the way) to Rannells asserting, “We’re liberals from Broadway,” which the locals deal with just like the arrival of flying monkeys in “The Wizard of Oz.”

Regardless of the big-name contingent would possibly lack, the youthful gamers compensate for with splendidly energetic song-and-dance numbers and true Broadway belts. Granted, the underlying themes about bridging cultural and geographic divides feels a tad simplistic within the present local weather, however the film is totally unabashed in regards to the wishful side of that — a bit like Murphy’s alternate historical past in “Hollywood” — in a method that compensates for its not-exactly-light contact.

“We’re nonetheless celebrities,” Barry says reassuringly as these crushing early critiques pour in. “We nonetheless have energy.”

“The Promenade” is certainly an illustration of star energy at work, however it’s principally a valentine to theater — at a time when theaters are closed — coupled with an overt message about LGBTQ acceptance and inclusion. All of that comes wrapped in an enormous neon bow, a joyous vacation reward for followers of musical theater, made by individuals who love the medium each bit as a lot as they do.

“The Promenade” premieres Dec. 11 on Netflix.

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