Summer is the time to kick back, enjoy the weather and catch a few summer blockbuster movies in air-conditioned theatres. And in recent years, it's also been the time to catch the odd summer evening T.V. hit, preferably light fare that only tries to charm.
This summer, for me, that T.V. show is the CBC's 'How To Solve A Problem Like Maria?'. Like many gay men, I've been a fan of the 1965 movie 'The Sound of Music' since I first saw it as a child. And there has been a decidedly gay bent to the CBC show this year: hosted by gay comedian Gavin Crawford, with at least one gay judge on the panel (the amazingly charismatic John Barrowman of Torchwood fame, whom I wouldn't be surprised to see play Captain Von Trapp in this fall's Toronto production alongside the winner) and as many as 10 very talented singing divas vying for the top spot. I've been hooked, as have about 700,000 other Canadians. For another take on the hit show, check out Xtra's article.
Good on CBC for such a success. This isn't Canadian Idol where the winner goes on to an uncertain and likely unsuccessful future. The winner on Maria goes on to star as the lead in this fall's remounting of The Sound of Music.
The final three - Elicia, Janna and Jayme - are amazing. Personally, I think Elicia will take the top prize but it could easily go to any of them. This Sunday night, they compete one last time with final performances, one is eliminated from competition and then Canadian viewers vote on the final two overnight, with the winner announced Monday night at 8 pm on CBC. You can bet I'll be watching!
*********** UPDATE JULY 29 2008 **************
As it turns out, I was correct predicting Elicia would take the top prize. I'm quite pleased. Watching the Sunday night show, I had a difficult time choosing between Elicia and runner-up Janna Polzin, but in the end gave Elicia my vote for her general likeability, her stronger ability to connect emotionally with the audience and her tomboyishness. That being said, I have no doubt that runner-up Polzin will go on to a great musical theatre career.
Surprising news out on Tues July 29, though, that the absence of Maria panelist Simon Lee from this weekend's final shows was due to more than simple 'personal reasons.' The National Post has the alleged sordid details here. Ouch.