Glee S5 Ep17 – “Opening Night”

Well, you know what that means. Alighting from a cab is one Santana Lopez (fresh from…wherever she’s been vacationing with Brittany for months and months). Not even a drive-by pigeon can stop her stalking slow-mo walk to the loft. Sue leaves (to buy mustard so Rachel can puke) and Santana enters. Give her four minutes with Berry and everything will be fine.

Side bar: There are like seven of them and one of Sue – throw her out! You might have to sacrifice someone but damn it, this is war!

Santana enters Rachel’s bedroom and announces she is the “closer.” No pep talks – but she will be getting her out of that bed and raring to go in no time. When Rachel goes into a meltdown spiral, Santana stops her with some reviews. Not good ones, oh no. Terrible ones actually, mean and cruel. And they were the ones that Barbra Streisand got in 1964 when she played Fanny in the original production.

Santana: “You suck at so many things but not at this.”

Rachel, says Santana, does not have it in her to mess this up. Like Santana, she has two speeds: awesome or not at all. So all she has to do is get up on stage and open her mouth – she will murder that crowd.

Back in the main room of Bushwick Loft of Stressful Waiting, the gang digs into the faux Babs gift basket. Rachel enters and asks why everyone is so morose – it’s her opening night! Group hug!

Side bar: We have sat with Rachel’s interior life – her insecurities and her fears. And now we’re about to embark on her career story as she’s supported by her nearest and dearest friends. Go Rachel!

Outside the Funny Girl theatre, Will finds Sue trying to scalp her ticket. Apparently – and to the surprise of no one who has seen the show before – she’s reneging on her promise to attend Rachel’s performance. Shocker! Someone else is scalping a ticket as well (hey, it’s Chris Parnell!) and when their eyes meet across a crowded sidewalk, tinkling music and slow mo tell us a connection has been made.

He winks at her and enters the theatre – she follows. Apparently she is going to Rachel’s opening night!

Inside her dressing room, Rachel gets a surprise visitor – Mr. Schue! He tells her that sometimes dreams come true, and they both pause when he notices her Finn necklace. Seems Rachel bought him a seat tonight because he always made her promise she’d get him one for her debut. Will tells her it’s a lovely thought, and really? When you think about it, of all the people who are connected in this moment, of dreams coming true and the ones that don’t, the person to understand Rachel is going to be Will. Finn was a part of both of their future dreams – as Rachel’s love, as Will’s protegé – and his death has left them both figuring out new dreams.

Will tells Rachel that this moment is the greatest gift a student can give a teacher. And then it’s ten minutes to show time and Will’s phone rings. Seems Baby Wemma has decided to make an early appearance! Will has to leave to fly back to Ohio/take the magical wormhole so he can attend his baby’s birth! Break a leg Rachel!

Side bar: Awwwww!

And now a shout out to the steadicam operator and the folks behind the scenes of Glee. Rachel, dressed as Fanny, walks from her dressing room and down the steps to the stage. Around her are the sounds of people and orchestra warming up. She is focused on her walk, until there is nothing but Rachel in the wings; only the sound of her breathing can be heard. The curtain goes up, the audience applauds, and Rachel has arrived.

We start off with “I’m the Greatest Star,” and Rachel owns the stage – she’s fabulous and at ease as she works the stage and the audience. It’s a stellar performance, but there is really no surprise to be had. As much as Rachel Berry was born to play this part, so was Lea Michele.

Unfortunately Sue doesn’t agree. She turns to the man beside her to complain – a man who turns out to be the critic from the New York Times! Sue doesn’t stick around; she stands and exits…as her mystery man does the same. Onstage, Rachel gets distracted by Sue’s departure, but instead of getting flustered, she turns it into anger. And that anger turns into even more power behind the words of the song. She hits her last note and the audience – and her row of devoted friends – applaud wildly.

Out in the lobby, Mario (the mysterious stranger) and Sue make some small talk. How to hail a cab, insulting Rachel’s performance and Broadway, the usual. He invites her to dinner – he owns a few restaurants – and she says yes.

Sidney would not be allowed in the love bubble.

Sidney would not be allowed in the love bubble.

Intermission! Rachel paces her dressing room nervously and Kurt and Mercedes arrive to give her big smiles. She’s doing great! And no, Sue getting up and leaving in the middle of a song meant nothing! Sidney the Producer arrives just in time to turn Rachel’s relief into a nightmare as he thinks she’s great! Bravo! Except he hopes that man in the track suit leaving in the middle of the number didn’t spook the Times critic.

Sidney must be related to Tina.

Not to worry, says Sidney. What’s important is what she does in Act II. Critics remember beginnings and endings – Rachel has to dig deep and make it happen. Because all that money and energy and time? It all hinges on that critic from the Times. If the review is bad, opening night is closing night.

Side bar: For those who are confused, Rachel’s starring on the Broadway that is generally only seen dramatically recreated on Broadway. Not the actual Broadway.

At Mario’s restaurant (Mario’s!), he offers to cook for Sue. They chat (her Nazi hunter parents, her divorce from herself, Becky as her food taster due to the poisoning threats) and he reveals he’s married only to his city, in all her glory. Cruel, delicious, and a hundred stories tall. Sue’s eyes light up.

They share a meal and wine, and he tells her that show would have been better if she had been up on that stage.

Rachel sings “Who Are You Now?” (a song she says makes her think of Finn) at center stage, pouring her heart into the words. A tear escapes as she looks up and oh, we know exactly what she’s thinking about. At the same time, Sue’s voice joins her; she’s dancing with Mario in the restaurant, clearly swept off her feet. It’s an interesting juxtaposition between the two stories, but I’m not sure it works. I’m always here for Jane Lynch singing, but it might have had more impact if Rachel was singing alone.

In her dressing room, Rachel is once again surrounded by her friends. There’s champagne, flowers from those who couldn’t be there, and hugs and smiles. She’s basking in the glow when Sidney enters. Six hours until they know if they’re the best thing since sliced bread, or toast! In the meantime, there’s a big fabulous cast party and Rachel’s friends are all invited.

After he leaves, Rachel admits she’d rather spend the time waiting for the Times’ review with her friends. Luckily, Blaine knows just the place to celebrate – a spot where they’ll love her.

Which brings us to the gang at a fabulous loud and funky gay bar, where the patrons stare in shock as THE Rachel Berry enters. They know her and they love her and they’ll be more than happy to help her party. Will she sing for them?

What do you think?

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