'Julie and the Phantoms' ghostly gay fun
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For some deliciously diverting fun, the new Netflix series Julie and the Phantoms brings a new adaptation of the popular Spanish telenovela with director and choreographer Kenny Ortega's buoyant style. Among the cute cast are a gay drummer, and Cheyenne Jackson as a singing dancing suave villain.
If you, your kids, or the kid inside you, are fans of Glee and High School Musical, you'll dig this series. Even if you're not, you'll find the series hard to resist.
David Lawrence's songs are pure pop earworms with terrific hooks. The actors give each scene their all, and best of all, it's a nice colorful fantasy; no violence, no guns, no superhero heads exploding or overt pandemic parallels. It's just about three dead rocking dudes who try to make amends with the surviving bandmate who didn't die but stole their songs.
Julie (the talented Madison Reyes) evokes the ghosts of three fledgling musicians from the band Sunset Curve; Luke (Charlie Gillespie), Alex (Owen Joyner) and Reggie (Jeremy Shada), who used to rehearse in the garage before their untimely death by tainted hot dogs.
The garage has since become a sort of abandoned shrine to Julie's deceased mother, an aspiring musician. Why the boy band's ghosts and not her mom's appear becomes the quest in the series.
Only when they perform together can living people see and hear the band perform, which leads to a series of mini-concerts that wow Julie's classmates, while upstaging sassy frenemy Carrie (Savannah Lee May).
But as the guys try to gain control over their situation, cute gay drummer Alex meets up with another ghost, skateboarder Willie (Booboo Stewart), and the plot thickens.
Willie leads the boys to someone who may help them find peace and 'move on,' Caleb Covington (Cheyenne Jackson), the MC and owner of a very special nightclub where mortals pay pricey admission to see ghosts perform.
As Covington, Cheyenne Jackson wows in his big band number. He tries to lure the boys into becoming part of his stage band (for eternity?), but they have other plans.
Meanwhile, Julie struggles with unleashing her own talent in a few marvelous solos and duos with the hunky Luke (kudos to Costume Designer Soyon An for keeping Gillespie in a series of sleeveless T-shirts).
It's all cute innocuous fun with a no-big-deal gay presence. So, take break from reality for a few hours and enjoy Julie and the Phantoms.
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