‘Glitter & Doom’ Review: Jukebox Musical Shines with Indigo Girls Songs, But Falls Flat with Queer Love Story

An inspired musician and aspiring actor fall head over heels for each other before their career paths diverge in this mixed bag of a musical.

Glitter & Doom

Some jukebox musicals successfully blend popular songs with compelling narratives, like “Mamma Mia!” with Abba’s hits. However, not all achieve the same level of success. “Good Vibrations,” for instance, didn’t capture the essence of Brian Wilson and The Beach Boys’ music. Similarly, “Glitter & Doom” falls short of its ambitions, offering a lively queer love story set against the backdrop of the Indigo Girls’ songs. Despite its energetic performances and catchy tunes, the show struggles with its simplistic and repetitive storytelling, relying too heavily on spectacle rather than substance.

In the gritty world of struggling musician Doom (Alan Cammish), life is a constant uphill battle. By day, he toils away at restoring mansions for a meager wage, and by night, he faces rejection after rejection in his pursuit of a breakthrough in the local music scene. Boston (Lea DeLaria), the blunt owner of a bar that serves as a gateway to success, doesn’t make things any easier for him.

Doom’s existence is shadowed by loneliness, especially since his mother Robin (Missi Pyle), caught in the vicious cycle of addiction and incarceration, is absent from his life. However, a chance encounter with Glitter (Alex Diaz), a spirited performer with dreams of attending a prestigious clown college in France, changes everything.

Their whirlwind romance breathes new life into Doom’s bleak world. As they spend every moment together, camping under the stars and supporting each other’s dreams, their bond deepens. Doom helps Glitter create an audition tape that lands him a spot at the elite French program, while Glitter inspires Doom to pursue a recording session with the renowned producer, The Doctor (played by Amy Ray of the Indigo Girls).

But as their dreams start to take shape, challenges arise. Doom’s impending reunion with his troubled mother threatens to derail his progress, while Glitter struggles to break free from the suffocating grip of his overbearing mother Ivy (Ming-Na Wen). With only 29 days until they’re separated by an ocean, Doom and Glitter must confront their fears and uncertainties if they want to hold onto their love and their dreams.

While director Tom Gustafson and writer Cory Krueckeberg pour their hearts into “Glitter & Doom,” drawing inspiration from their own love story, their execution falls short in terms of narrative depth. The plot and character development feel rudimentary, failing to fully capture the brilliance of the music and lyrics.

In the first act, the protagonists struggle to come into focus, leaving audiences with little reason to invest in their individual struggles, let alone their budding romance. As a result, it’s challenging to empathize with them as they face obstacles together.

Despite the film’s heartfelt intentions, it ultimately struggles to strike a balance between the emotional resonance of the music and the development of its characters and plot.

The dialogue in “Glitter & Doom” feels contrived, with characters speaking in overly scripted, rehearsed language that distracts from natural conversation. Crafty metaphors introduced earlier in the film are abandoned by the third act, and conflicts are resolved hastily, without real depth or resolution.

The struggles of Glitter and Doom in dealing with their flawed mothers—Robin’s abandonment and Ivy’s overbearing nature—are presented without convincing character development. Changes in these supporting characters seem sudden and unmotivated, resolving their problems with a sense of convenience rather than authenticity.

While the film showcases impressive visual flair, seamlessly transitioning between vibrant musical numbers, these sequences often feel like overly edited music videos. The frenetic editing style detracts from the choreography, aesthetics, and performances, diminishing the emotional impact and narrative flow.

Despite these shortcomings, some musical sequences shine, such as the cameo-filled performance of “Get Out the Map,” featuring talents like Kate Pierson of the B-52s, Beth Malone, Peppermint, and Emily Saliers of the Indigo Girls. The finale, set to “Closer to Fine” and “The Power of Two,” successfully lifts the spirits after a somewhat uneven journey.

The chemistry between the leads in “Glitter & Doom” leaves much to be desired, failing to ignite the passion expected from a romantic pairing. While both Cammish and Diaz possess impressive vocal talents, their duets lack the magnetic connection found in the harmonies of their music idols, Ray and Saliers. Despite their individual charm, the on-screen chemistry between them feels strangely subdued. Diaz’s tendency to lean into the fantastical nature of his character contrasts with Cammish’s introverted portrayal of Doom, creating a disconnect in their dynamic.

However, amidst its shortcomings, the film offers moments of genuine warmth and inclusivity, spreading messages of LGBTQ+ acceptance and joy. These sentiments serve as a grounding force amidst the more fantastical elements of the story. The idea that singing an Indigo Girls tune has the power to transform lives for the better is both celebratory and reverent.

Ultimately, while “Glitter & Doom” has its moments to treasure, it falls short of its potential. A revised script could have elevated the musical journey to a more satisfying conclusion, bringing it closer to its intended impact.

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