Veteran filmmaker and actor Henry Jaglom’s 20th feature film is the backstage drama “Ovation,” a story that takes place over the course of a week in and around a struggling small stage production of “The Rainmaker.”
Tanna Frederick is a standout as Maggie, the breakout star of the show, torn between keeping the failing production going with her presence, or pursuing a TV role, opposite hunk Stewart Henry (James Denton), who is doing everything to woo her away.
While Maggie and Stewart wrestle with their chemistry and conflicting feelings, there are various smaller dramas that orbit around them — Maggie’s in a rut with her co-star and longtime boyfriend, the producer will have to close the show if she can’t find a financier, and there’s the rocky romance between two actors that turns violent. Not to mention the psychic whose tarot readings keep everyone on their toes.
The craft of this film is not in its visual style but in its writing (the script is by Jaglom and Ron Vignone). “Ovation” is a loving tribute to the theater, to the intoxicating power of live performance and to the bond among performers and crew, from the lighting guy in the booth down to the star on the stage. There truly is no business like show business, and “Ovation” perfectly captures that.
MPAA rating: R, for language including some sexual references
Running time: 1 hour 42 minutes
Playing: Laemmle's Monica in Santa Monica, Playhouse 7 in Pasadena, Town Center 5 in Encino