Comtempo musical “Were the World Mine” doesn’t need to hocus-pocus us with some mind-changing trickery; it’s spellbinding from the get-go.
Inflated from director Tom Gustafson’s original short film “Fairies,” Timothy (the delightful Tanner Cohen) is the flick’s non-caricatured protagonist, dealing with the monotony of high school, his conflicted mother (Judy McClane) and bullying from his rugby-team classmates at an all-male academy. He’s got a buttery singing voice, and his earthy English teacher (Wendy Robie) notices, casting him as Puck in a school production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”
All the boys in the class are required to participate, which works to Timothy’s advantage – he finds a secret recipe for a magical potion. And his crush, the dashing jock Jonathon, is first to be queered with it. Others follow, including his spunky BFF Frankie (Zelda Williams, the daughter of Robin Williams) who lip-locks with a chick at a local fair. Soon, the narrow-minded town is wondering, WTF?
But when the production begins, everyone is enraptured – and those familiar with Shakespeare’s play can probably guess the outcome when the curtain drops.
Heralded as a festival champ in other cities, the honey-sweet “Were the World Mine,” especially its sturdier second half, is a winning potion – swooning with winsome neutral-toned cinematography (even with limited funds), sublime underplayed acting, and enchanting sing-and-dance numbers. Some needless subplots – like Timothy’s mom’s relationship with homophobe cosmetic seller Nora Kay (Jill Larson) – and too-typical characters, like the coach who threatens the production and the fey English teacher, mar the script. But, with its refreshing supernatural twist on tolerance, the flaws are completely overshadowed by the sheer originality of Gustafson’s vanguard story. B+
‘Were the World Mine’
9:30 p.m. Nov. 15
Main Art Theatre, Royal Oak