Love Movie

Glitter & Doom

The Indigo Girls are having a moment. The upcoming documentary “It’s Only Life After All” profiles the beloved singer-songwriting duo Amy Ray and Emily Saliers in a way that feels long overdue. And then, of course, “Closer to Fine,” a single off their second album, released in 1989, showed up multiple times in Greta Gerwig’s “Barbie,” blasting out of Barbie’s car radio, with everyone singing along gleefully. Hearing “Closer to Fine” reverberating through the cotton-candy-pink corporate-driven fantasia of “Barbie” was legitimately funny. The lyrics are disturbing—darkness’ insatiable hunger, fear “like a blanket,” “seeking solace in a bottle”—but the tune is catchy. The Power of Two continues with “Glitter & Doom,” a new jukebox musical directed by Tom Gustafson, with screenplay by Cory Krueckeberg, made up entirely of songs from the Indigo Girls’ vast catalog. 

The story is simple to the point of being simplistic. Glitter (Alex Diaz) dreams of attending clown college in Paris. If only his high-powered executive mother (Ming-Na Wen) were more supportive! Doom (Alan Cammish) is an aspiring singer-songwriter, scribbling lyrics in a notebook, and auditioning repeatedly at the local gay club, being told by the club owner (Lea DeLaria) to play something “lighter”. Glitter and Doom meet one night and begin a tender yet neurotic romance. Glitter is hopeful and optimistic. Doom is the opposite. But they support each other in their artistic pursuits, even if clown college will keep them apart eventually. Doom has a backstory worthy of his name. There’s conflict, but most of it is pretty mild. 

The way to watch “Glitter & Doom” is to just ride the wave of the music, enjoying the new versions of the songs (Michelle Chamuel did the arrangements). The plot is constructed around the songs. This is true of all musicals, but there’s an artful way to do it. In “Glitter & Doom,” you can always feel the script marching towards the next song, as quickly as possible. The conception tends towards the unfortunately literal: if the lyrics refer to the setting sun, then there is a shot of the sun setting. There’s a lot of that. Compare to Julie Taymor’s much messier and yet, in a way, more gratifying “Across the Universe,” where entire worlds erected themselves in between each note of the Beatles’ songs, and the whole thing was clearly driven by a very specific artistic vision—however unwieldy the end result might have been. “Glitter & Doom” plays it safe, comparatively. 

I lost count of the songs covered, but “Closer to Fine,” “Bitterroot,” “Galileo,” “Love Will Come to You,” and “Get Out the Map” have prominent positions. There’s a mashup of “Touch Me Fall,” “Shed Your Skin” and “Prince of Darkness” which is so inventive it took me a second to even recognize the songs. There are some dance numbers, but most of it is Glitter and Doom singing—to themselves, or to each other. The two young leads are charming and sincere. The cast is peppered with big names in small roles. Tig Notaro shows up as a very dry-witted professor of clowning, and Missi Pyle is heartbreaking and a little scary as Doom’s troubled mother. Both Ray and Saliers make cameo appearances. 

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