The show goes on in this encore novelization of the hit comic-book series.
Fresh off closing night of their last show, the Backstagers are already gearing up for the next St. Genesius spectacle: Tammy, a nod to 1969 rock-opera Tommy. Irreconcilable differences between the alpha Onstager McQueen brothers land Beckett an opportunity to step in as director. More new ground is broken when the title role of a Deaf character is shared between Penitent Angels School guest stars Bailey and Adrienne, who is actually Deaf. For most, change brings new opportunities to try out unfamiliar backstage jobs. But a rift grows between boyfriends Jory and Hunter as Jory’s newfound social media stardom—and a persistent negative voice in his head—convinces him to abandon the show for an all-expenses-paid trip to Greece. Is it all too good to be true, or will Jory leave the Backstagers for real? In this sophomore effort, Mientus effectively expands the series’ mythic Backstage, which magically connects to theaters all over the world, into international territory. The already notably diverse cast broadens further to include disability. Despite Bailey’s initial choice to take the role of playing a Deaf character, her allyship and the company’s subsequent discussions about accurate representation expertly situate the novel in conversation with real-life casting controversies. Sygh’s two-color spot art accentuates the series’ whimsy and shojolike romance, albeit with a slightly darker edge.
Applauseworthy. (Fantasy. 10-14)