Recap: Coco rushes down the hall, gabbling to random extras about how eager she is to see the cast list for the school's upcoming production of Othello. (Yay! Another show!) She ambles over to the bulletin board where the Othello: A Musical Version poster is hanging and stares at it longingly.
Ms. Grant brusquely advises Montgomery on how he needs to schedule rehearsals, since apparently he's the stage manager for Othello. I wonder if Montgomery majors in Behind-the-Scenes Stuff 'cause it doesn't look like he has much of an interest in the performing side of the performing arts industry. Ms. Grant tells him that being a stage manager is a tough, demanding job - and outright admits that she's trying to scare the bejeezus out of him so that he truly gets how hard it is. She hands him the final cast list, then orders him to make copies and post them around the school. He winces as he looks it over and says, "A lot of people are going to be bummed out by this" ...and by a lot of people, he means Coco.
The students are gathered in the hall, anxiously awaiting the release of the cast list. Doris snaps, "What's the hold-up?" and Danny says, "What's the big deal? We do plays all the time." LOL. No duh. Doris replies, "This is not just any play. It's Othello" then frenetically natters on and on about what a big fucking deal it is to perform in Othello, and everyone just stares at her like she's a mental patient.
In the office, Miss Sherwood asks Mr. Shorofsky if she can talk to him, but he mumbles something about being late for a meeting with Mrs. Berg and flees. A few seconds later, Mrs. Berg nonchalantly strolls into the office, and Miss Sherwood's all, "Wha-a?" and asks her if she's not supposed to be meeting with Mrs. Shorofsky. Mrs. Berg says she doesn't have any kind of meeting scheduled with Mr. Shorofsky...and Miss Sherwood stares into space contemplatively, then gets a knowing look on her face.
The cast list has been posted! Coco reads it aloud, and it includes Leroy, Danny, Doris, and Julie - who was awarded the coveted role of Desdemona. Coco looks crestfallen about not making the cut...and when Julie arrives to check out the list, Coco scowls at her and snarks, "Congratulations" and Julie pales and goes, "You're kidding." Coco shoots her the stink-eye and snaps, "Don't I wish!" and storms off like the petulant, self-entitled baby she is. Doris chases after her...and Julie reads over the cast list and frowns unhappily, then also chases after Coco.
Bruno's in one of the music rooms, playing on a synthesizer while Mr. Shorofsky stands a few feet away and listens. Bruno scrunches his face in displeasure and grumps, "Strings don't do it for me" and says he doesn't think anything in the violin family is going to cut it for Othello. He says that whenever he thinks of Othello, he hears a heavy back beat. Mr. Shorofsky disagrees with that notion and reminds him, "This is Shakespeare" which apparently means only string instruments will do. Miss Sherwood enters the room, glares at Mr. Shorofsky, then asks him if he's coming to the strike meeting or not. He says, "Not" and she retorts, "You have to!" and he argues, "I left 'you have to' when I left Germany." He tells her he gave one of the other teachers his proxy, and she looks displeased and calls that "lazy and uncaring". He says that as a public employee, he shouldn't have the option to strike, so Miss Sherwood urges him to come to the meeting and argue his point of view...but he says that would be impossible, since he's pretty sure their minds are already made up. Miss Sherwood tells him he shouldn't send a proxy, then says he's too old to pout...which was weird 'cause I didn't get the impression that he was pouting, just really disinterested in picketing.
Julie's sitting in an empty classroom, studying her lines for Othello, when Montgomery enters. He tells her he's looking for Leroy, and she says she hasn't seen him. She asks him why Ms. Grant cast her in the role of Desdemona, and he's like, "I dunno." She says Coco is a much better actress than she is, but he just kind of shrugs and says, "Coco's OK - but we don't know how good you are 'cause you haven't shown anyone yet." (For a non-performing student of a performing arts high school, he's really in no position to be so judgey.) He tells her that maybe Ms. Grant chose her for the role to give her a chance to showcase her untested acting skills, then urges her to make the most of the opportunity.
Miss Sherwood brings the union meeting to order. Mr. Crandall says that a strike is pretty much a foregone conclusion, and Ms. Grant complains that she can't afford to strike...and points out that most of the teachers in the room also can't afford to strike. Mr. Crandall says he can't afford not to strike, 'cause he wants bigger pay checks...and Ms. Grant wails that the students can't manage without them and won't have anywhere to go while they're on strike. Please. I'm sure the little cherubs can figure something out temporarily. Miss Sherwood points out that the students are the very reason they're striking, since they're pushing for things like more books and better cafeteria food...and some tights for Leroy. Mr. Shorofsky complains that if they go on strike, office personnel will fill in - and he's worried that these flunkies will destroy everything they've tried to accomplish with the kids. Miss Sherwood says the strike vote will take place tonight, and when she polls the group, most of them indicate that they'll be voting for a strike. She says she expects the vote to pass and that they'll probably be picketing in the morning.
Sure enough, the next morning the teachers are picketing...and the students crowd around them to stare at them in amusement and show their support. Doris tells Julie she's scared that the strike will mean the Shakespeare festival will be canceled - egads! - then says her mother wants her to quit this wretched dump of a school and study performing arts in New Jersey. Sounds like an excellent plan.
Montgomery informs the Othello cast that the festival will proceed as planned. He says that since the teachers are on strike, they're going to have to prepare for the show on their own - which means they all have a lot of work to do. Julie suggests canceling it since they can't really do anything without Ms. Grant or Mr. Shorofsky...and Montgomery bitchily accuses her of wanting to chicken out. He asks the group if they want to press ahead with rehearsals, and they all raise their hands - a sheepish Julie included - and Montgomery grins with smug satisfaction. Meanwhile, outside it starts to rain heavily..
The teachers (minus Mr. Shorofsky) have sneaked into the school to get out of the rain and are huddling in the downstairs dressing room, drinking coffee. Miss Sherwood reminds them they still have to picket, even if it's raining. Suddenly, Mr. Shorofsky enters the room and looks annoyed that no one is outside, picketing as promised. He grumps that he doesn't mind the heavy rain, then grabs a sign and heads back out.
In the music room, Bruno is playing the synthesizer, trying to decide on a sound that would work for Othello and also appeal to Mr. Shorofsky. After a few tries, he scrunches his face in frustration.
Doris and Danny are rehearsing a scene for Othello...but it goes off the rails when they start ad libbing nonsense, which frustrates a stressed out Montgomery. Julie complains that she can't rehearse until Leroy shows up, since he's playing the role of Othello. A few seconds later, Bruno grumps to Montgomery that he can't get the music right and is going to have to redo the entire score...and he has no idea when/how/if he'll be able to deliver on that. As he shuffles off down the hall in his usual dejected manner that often makes me wonder if one day he's going to put a bullet in his own head, Montgomery stares after him in annoyance.
Ms. Grant desperately wants to help the kids with the play, but Miss Sherwood sternly tells her she can't - otherwise the union might have a conniption. Ms. Grant wails, "But the kids need help!" and says this is a special festival - plus, she cast some of the less deserving students in principal roles so they'd have a chance to "stretch", and she's now worried they're in over their heads. LOL. I'm sure whoever's sitting in the audience of this "festival" will get over it quick. Miss Sherwood doesn't seem to give much of a rat's ass about the predicament of the Othello cast members and once again sternly warns Ms. Grant not to do anything work related during the strike.
Montgomery is trying to reach Leroy by phone but doesn't have any luck. Coco happens to amble by, so he starts whining to her about how everything's going to shit - and it doesn't help matters that Leroy continues to be a no show for rehearsals. He brashly declares he's going to Harlem to see whassup, and Coco warns him that Harlem isn't his turf, and he snarks, "Get off my turf!" Coco starts whining about how everyone's so busy rehearsing for this play that they no longer have time to hang out, so he asks her to be part of the solution and help him convince the cast to buckle down and get serious about rehearsing. She mulls that over for a few seconds and agrees to help.
Montgomery arrives at Leroy's decrepit Harlem apartment. When Leroy answers the door, he looks at Montgomery in puzzlement and sneers, "You get on the wrong bus or what?" Montgomery says they need to talk, so Leroy interrupts the card game he has going with a group of friends and steps into the hallway. Incidentally, Leroy is wearing a hilariously grisly '80s ensemble: crop top, short shorts (shocker), and knee length socks. At least he's toned enough to be walking around like that. Montgomery asks him why he hasn't been coming to rehearsal, and Leroy reminds him about the teachers' strike and says, "I'm not interested in no Shakespeare." Montgomery asks, "Why'd you audition then?" so Leroy says that Ms. Grant misled him when she described the role of Othello as "walking like a king and saying things like a king". He apparently didn't realize he was trying out for a Shakespearean play (LOL - no wonder he's failing English) and now wants out. Montgomery gets pissed off and plays the guilt card by telling him how hard the rest of the cast is working. Julie, for example, is scared of being cast in such a prominent role, but she shows up to rehearsal every day...and Danny, who can't act worth a shit, is also doing his best. He says that Coco would love to be in the show - but, sadly, she didn't get a part. But is she sulking?! No. Well...not anymore. He scolds Leroy for not grabbing this opportunity and running with it, then snarks, "Go buy yourself some guts!" Hee! You go, Montgomery! Leroy gets mad and slams Montgomery's tiny body against the wall, and the two stare at each other mutely until Leroy sets him down and returns to his card game.
Bruno is in the music room again, working on the new score for Othello. Doris stops by to ask him how it's going, and he grumbles that he can't make the music work the way Mr. Shorofsky wants it to be. He has a totally different vision...but he doesn't want to piss off his mentor by going against his wishes. Doris asks him to play the score the way he would if he were free to do it any way he wanted, so Bruno starts playing something bass-sounding and closes his eyes and gets that orgasmic look on his face that always makes me laugh really hard. While that's going on, we get a montage of Coco helping Julie rehearse her dance sequence, Leroy putting an end to his card game to he can read Othello, and Montgomery walking the streets of New York looking sad. In the second part of the montage, Ms. Grant looks despondent as she pickets, and Leroy packs up his stuff and leaves his apartment. When Bruno finishes playing, Doris flashes him a smile, then kisses the top of his head and says, "Thank you."
Coco and Doris find Montgomery in the hall and excitedly tell him that the show's really starting to come together! All three happily scamper toward the theater.
Miss Sherwood arrives home from a day of picketing to find Leroy on her doorstep...and when he sees her approach, he gives her a wide grin.
The first full rehearsal for Othello is, to put it mildly, a fucking disaster. During a dance number, Danny and Doris stumble, fall, and roll around on stage - and then Doris suddenly shrieks, "Stop the show!" 'cause her contact just popped out. The rest of the cast just kind of stands around laughing at the spectacle, which made me think it was some sort of ad libbed schtick that was part of the show...but when Montgomery and Coco stare up at the stage in growing horror, I realized that Doris and Danny just really suck at performing.
Miss Sherwood tells Leroy that the Othello cast (minus him) have been busily rehearsing, then asks whassup with his no shows. He mumbles, "I dunno. I ain't no king" so Miss Sherwood says, according to Ms. Grant, he looks every inch a monarch. Leroy says he thinks he'd sound stupid reciting lines from Shakespeare, but she assures him that isn't true. He perks up at that and asks her if she'd help him practice his lines, so she reminds him that she's not supposed to do anything work related during the teachers' strike. He suddenly looks as though he just got a bright idea and asks her if she tutors people, then pulls out all the money he has in his pocket: $6.35. She smiles and says, "For that kind of money, you'll get all the tutoring you can handle." Aww...
As Montgomery listens to Bruno's re-worked score for the play, he bobs his head approvingly. He tells Bruno it's terrific and wants to use it for the show, but Bruno looks mopey and says he doesn't want to go behind Mr. Shorofsky's back...so he won't use the music until he can get his mentor's approval. He really is overthinking this faux dilemma.
Miss Sherwood and Ms. Grant meet up in a diner before their morning picketing session. Miss Sherwood yawns in an exaggerated fashion and says she stayed up late watching a movie, but Ms. Grant doesn't look like she buys that explanation. She says she'd like to go to at least one rehearsal to make sure the kids are doing OK, but Miss Sherwood assures her that everything is fine, and that Coco is doing a superb job as director. Ms. Grant stares back at her in surprise and is all, "Director? Wha-a?!"
Bruno sneaks onto the picket line and discreetly hands Mr. Shorofsky a cassette tape and explains that it contains the musical score he wants to use for Othello - but only if he gives it his blessing. Meanwhile, Ms. Grant toddles behind Miss Sherwood on their way to the picket line, and is startled when she notices Leroy exit the subway station and yawn in the same exaggerated fashion as Miss Sherwood was doing earlier in the diner...and also the way she's doing right now! Subtle, writers. Ms. Grant scrunches her face and looks at them both suspiciously, then chides herself for thinking the unthinkable, 'cause ewww. Meanwhile, Mr. Shorofsky has found a pair of headphones somewhere and is listening to Bruno's cassette while he pickets.
Montgomery is acting as a stand-in for Leroy so Julie can rehearse her lines. Leroy suddenly sweeps into the theater and mocks Montgomery for his shitty line delivery, then pompously lectures everyone about the character of Othello - as if they aren't all already familiar with the play they've been rehearsing all week. He pulls on a red cape, and he and Julie perform the scene together...and everyone looks entranced by their brilliant performances and cheers.
Miss Berg hands Bruno a handwritten note, but says she's not allowed to tell him who delivered it. Bruno opens it and finds a drawing of a smiley face, and is signed "S". Yay! Mr. Shorofsky likes the new score! Non-existent crisis averted.
Coco peps up the cast by telling them how awesome they are for believing in themselves and putting the show together. As they sit in a circle, holding hands, they count to three and give themselves a loud hip hip hurray!
The faculty is once again huddled in the dressing room, taking a break from picketing. They hear the music of Othello playing in the nearby theater, and Ms. Grant abruptly excuses herself and says she's going to the bathroom...and a few seconds later, Mr. Shorofsky and Mr. Crandall do the same. Miss Sherwood decides to finally throw all caution to the wind and mutters, "Oh, the hell with it.." and also rushes over to the theater. The cast is performing a dress rehearsal, and I'm happy to report that Leroy has finally been made to wear tights. Incidentally, Danny has a goatee drawn on his face, which makes me wonder if he's unable to grow facial hair. The teachers, along with Montgomery and Coco look very impressed by the performance - and when it's finished, they cheer wildly while the cast members each take a bow.
And that's a wrap.
P.S. I wonder if this performance constitutes the school's entire "Shakespeare Festival" ??