On November 1, Team StarKid released Apocalyptour: Live in Los Angeles, a live DVD showcasing one of the three LA dates on the troupe’s national concert tour which took place in May and June of this year.

For Apocalyptour, StarKid released a physical DVD and a digital download of the content simultaneously – a first for any of their productions – meaning that the fans who had to wait days or weeks for the shipping of their SPACE Tour DVDs can access this show immediately upon purchasing. Thanks to this development, you can read our take on the new StarKid DVD below.

It’s still a bit of a jolt to see the faces of Team StarKid in high definition DVD quality, performing on a huge stage in front of a packed house. It feels confusing somehow, almost a little wrong, to see them in a glossier and more professional medium than their homemade videos or admittedly increasingly no-longer-so-grainy YouTube footage taped in small dark theatres, and you start to wonder at the enormity of it all, asking, “Who let them do that? How did this happen? When did StarKid go from this to THIS?”

When something exists primarily on the Internet, it can be difficult to grasp how large a scale it may be affecting, how far it truly reaches. For many people, being a StarKid fan is still quite a small and underground thing, something that isn’t fed to them through filters of PR, advertising, marketing and record labels. But the reality of the situation is that this merry troupe spent the early summer crossing America, selling out venues that most contemporary musicians would be lucky to fill, and being met at each stop with a fan fervour that the stars of Broadway would rarely be met with at any stage door, unless they’re hosting an extra-special celebrity. They may not be household names, but the Internet is bigger than any household, and Team StarKid have grown to become the Internet’s biggest rock stars.

Apocalyptour: Live in Los Angeles differs structurally from 2011’s SPACE Tour DVD in that it presents the Apocalyptour concert in full, from start to finish, as opposed to cutting between musical numbers with talking heads and behind-the-scenes moments. On one hand, the lack of backstage footage is somewhat disappointing. For many fans, the individual personalities in Team StarKid are as big a draw-card as the songs, and when the group goes on tour, fans desire as much personal content as possible – exposure to the antics of their favorite StarKids unguarded in their natural habitat. However, Apocalyptour supplies what SPACE does not in presenting fans with a full run-through of the performance, from curtain up to curtain down, so fans at home may experience the entire set as if they were there in the audience of the Los Angeles House of Blues.

Unlike SPACE, Apocalyptour features a scripted story – written by Brian Holden, Nick Lang and Matt Lang – in which the StarKids have decided to give up singing and dancing to become travelling archaeologists. They uncover an Apocalyptic prophecy and when they accidentally activate it, they are faced with Margaret, the Mayan god of chaos and death. Margaret (played excruciatingly hilariously by a straight-faced and be-skirted Jim Povolo) also happens to be the god of musical theatre, so the StarKids are forced to go back to their singing and dancing ways, performing to save their lives – and the world – from destruction. In the end, the crisis is averted and Margaret herself joins Team StarKid.

The concept is rescued from being cheesy by how self-aware the script is. It’s nowhere near as tight as one of their musicals, because here, the story merely serves as a fuzzy backdrop to get from number to number in a set-list made up of songs created for other musicals, but the humour is full of lamp-shading and self-deprecation. Not a single person could have missed the joke about how an absent StarKid being “consumed by a giant, greedy Fox” was one of the signs of the impending Apocalypse. When a performance from Brian Rosenthal as Joey Richter’s Heart is praised by the others, Joey quips that “he used to be a lot better but then he got cast in a non-Equity production of Young Frankenstein,” referencing A.J. Holmes, the originator of the Heart role in Me and My Dick. When asked by Margaret if the StarKids were criminals, Dylan Saunders offers that he likes stealing from Whole Foods, and Joey pipes up again saying, “and I appeared on the Disney show Jessie, Fridays at 8 p.m.,” before the others clap hands over his mouth and drag him off. Later, when Margaret fails to be impressed by the group, she calls their performance “skimpy and lyrically uninspired,” direct quotes from critical reviews of Starship, by Time Out and the Chicago Reader respectively.

And in classic StarKid style, they never go for the obvious joke. These are people who have a habit of, first and foremost, doing things that they themselves find funny, including playing tricks on the audience. When they perform the title number to Me and My Dick, the group censors themselves, cutting one another off coyly to avoid saying the “D” word. Someone unfamiliar with their wickedness – a parent, perhaps – would pick up the obvious missing rhyme and make the leap that StarKid was attempting to make the show family-friendly, due to the large number of young fans the group has accrued despite the adult material of some of their musicals. It’s a fair assumption. That’s what StarKid want you to think. But the joke is a double-cross, as they end the entire set with a reprise of the “Me and My Dick” chorus, dragging it out to the last minute when they use the actual lyric, in a matter of fact and self-satisfied way.

The loose plot uses throwaway lines to lead into musical numbers. Brian Holden, having a moment of insecurity about their situation, is told by the others to man up and shut up, which prompts his rendition of “Guys Like Potter,” A Very Potter Sequel‘s song about Snape getting bullied. Other songs are grouped thematically, such as a collection of scheming villain songs from several StarKid productions, and a section of the set dedicated to various duets. Given that only nine of the thirty-something people involved in Team StarKid appeared onstage at the Apocalyptour, the songs were all rearranged for different soloists and groups by StarKid’s musical director, Clark Baxtresser. Some, such as Joe Walker and Brian Rosenthal’s Voldemort/Quirrell duet “Different As Can Be,” remain almost identical to their original performance, but the award for most creative new arrangement would have to be a tie between the jazzed up, up-tempo redesign of “Guys Like Potter,” and the duet between Dylan Saunders and Jaime Lyn Beatty on a mash-up of “Sami” from Little White Lie and “Harry” from A Very Potter Musical. Originally the same song, written by Darren Criss, it was transferred from one production to another before StarKid had any audience to speak of.

Other musical highlights include the beautiful harmonies on Starship‘s “The Way I Do,” some of Criss’ finest work as a composer; Joey Richter and Lauren Lopez on “Granger Danger,” which was genius the first time we saw it and still holds up – in fact somehow keeps improving – after three and a half years; the build-up from solo to group number on Holy Musical B@man’s “Dark, Sad, Lonely Knight,” and the impossibly infectious “Super Friends” from the same production. StarKid also seemed to draw inspiration from their prodigal son, as their rendition of A Very Potter Musical‘s “Not Alone” – also a Darren Criss trademark solo number – features a strong solo by Jaime Lyn Beatty and gospel choir-style backing vocals, an arrangement that seems to echo Criss’ performance of the number at the 2010 Trevor Project Live event. “Not Alone” is also the only performance on the DVD where the sounds of the crowd singing along are turned up in the audio mix, and the effect is haunting.

All in all, Apocalyptour: Live In Los Angeles is an enjoyable watch for any StarKid fan. Despite the caricature of slap-dash mediocrity Team StarKid humorously paint of themselves, the performances are skilled and solid, and the entire production demonstrates the growth of this group of people – who, never forget, basically fell into this – both as artists and as businesspeople. The desire to keep improving and produce professional quality work for an audience initially drawn in and made loyal by the grassroots, DIY dynamics of your operation must be a delicate balance to maintain; yet maintain it StarKid do, and in doing so, they continue to create something that the world has never quite seen the likes of before.

Apocalyptour: Live in Los Angeles is available now at Team StarKid’s web-store. For those still craving behind-the-scenes content, the physical Apocalyptour DVD features an exclusive video diary chronicling the day leading up to the tour’s final show in New York City. Apocalyptour: Live In Los Angeles includes performances by Dylan Saunders, Joey Richter, Joe Walker, Brian Holden, Brian Rosenthal, Jim Povolo, Meredith Stepien, Lauren Lopez and Jaime Lyn Beatty. Apocalyptour featured songs by A.J. Holmes, Carlos Valdes, Darren Criss, Mark Swiderski, Nick Gage and Scott Lamps, music direction by Clark Baxtresser, tour direction by Julia Albain, and was filmed by Liam White.

After all that talk of inclusivity, Star Trek Beyond falls into the Hollywood trap of implied sexuality.

Mild spoilers for Star Trek Beyond.

Star Trek Beyond, already a wildly anticipated movie, made headlines ahead of its release because of the franchise’s decision to introduce the first openly LGBT character: Mr Sulu, played by John Cho.

While this decision was certainly met with excitement, there was disappointment, too. The original Mr Sulu, George Takei, openly voiced his opinion that they should have introduced a new LGBT character rather than expand on original canon (as they have been the whole trilogy), while Simon Pegg beautifully argued that there was power in using an established character who wouldn’t be defined by his sexuality.

Then came the movie itself, and while the introduction of gay Sulu is still a great thing, we’re left sorely disappointed by Beyond‘s decision to depict the LGBT relationship — or rather, hardly depict it at all.

As reported by our friends at The Mary Sue, the scene featuring Sulu and his husband Ben depicts a “lukewarm” relationship, although Sulu is very affectionate with the pair’s daughter.

This is, unfortunately, a common problem in Hollywood when an LGBT couple — almost impossibly — makes it into a big franchise film. They’re allowed to be there, but having any kind of physical interaction even remotely resembling what a heterosexual couple might have still seems to be off-limits.

Related: Hollywood is failing the LGBT community: GLAAD slams Disney, Paramount and Warner Bros.

And, according to John Cho, there was actually a kiss filmed. “There was a kiss that I think is not there anymore,” he told Collider. “It wasn’t like a make-out session. We’re at the airport with our daughter. It was a welcome-home kiss. I’m actually proud of that scene, because it was pretty tough.”

Cho points out that Ben was played by a non-actor, writer Doug Jung, and says, “Obviously, I just met the kid, and then Doug is not an actor. I just wanted that to look convincingly intimate. We’re two straight guys and had to get to a very loving, intimate place. It was hard to do on the fly. We had to open up. It came off well, in my view.”

And we wish we could have seen it. Introducing a major LGBT character in the Star Trek franchise is a fantastic first step, and depicting two POC actors raising a child together is a great statement — but, unfortunately, the decision to cut out their kiss (which was already chaste, by the sounds of it) is emblematic of Hollywood’s continuous phobia of depicting LGBT relationships and intimacy on the big screen.

As Screen Crush also points out, this exact same scenario played out in Independence Day: Resurgence, too. In Finding Dory, the lesbian couple are only implied, in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it sequence.

LGBT representation (when present at all) is always so subtle, evidently in fear of offending straight audiences while not totally erasing non-straight sexualities. And, sadly, even that is considered a big step forward — but maybe it’s time we start depicting humanity as it is, and not what society wished it was 100 years ago.

Here’s looking at you, Star Wars.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child reviews from theater critics are glowing, so when the hell can Americans get a chance to see the play in New York?

With just days to go until The Cursed Child script book is released around the world, The New York Post’s theater reporter has spoken to sources who say the play will be coming to Broadway sooner rather than later. Producers are currently holding discussions to bring the play to NY as early as 2017.

They haven’t yet announced a Broadway engagement for “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,” but New York theater people say it’s only a matter of time. Word is that Friedman and Callender are in negotiations for a Shubert theater possibly for next season. They may hit Toronto first, however.

The idea of The Cursed Child hitting Broadway so soon (“next season” could mean around May 2017) will come as a relief to American Harry Potter fans who would rather not travel overseas to see “the eighth story” (though it’s a little more affordable to do so right now thanks to #Brexit). It also speaks to this important fact: It’s important to see The Cursed Child rather than reading it.

If the show does go to Toronto first as The New York Post suggests it might, a trip to Canada would also be easier for Americans. Sorry, people who don’t live in North America.

This writer saw the play in June and absolutely loved the characters and magic happening on stage. But the story is… not the best. I’m very eager to see what fans, myself included, think of the story after reading the script book this weekend.

For her part, Rowling has promised that fans around the world will get to see the play. Only time will tell if she’s hinting at a movie or a world tour:

If ‘Cursed Child’ comes to Broadway next year, will you try to see it ASAP?

The West End production currently has dates running into May 2017, but additional dates are expected to go on sale in early August.

Present day Han Solo may’ve left the main Star Wars series after the events of The Force Awakens, but the character’s time in movie theaters is far from over.

The new Han Solo film from Lucasfilm — scheduled to hit theaters in May 2018 — might turn into a trilogy for the reluctant hero, according to the New York Daily News.

The paper reports that star Alden Ehrenreich has signed a three-picture deal, suggesting that the studio intends to expand the Han Solo spinoff into a trilogy. “They feel that his character has the right potential to become a central figure in several movies,” a source told NY Daily News. “They’re keeping things under wraps at the moment, but the deal is that he has signed for at least three movies.”

This makes a lot of sense given the popularity of the character coupled with his absence in Episode 8 and beyond. We also know that Lucasfilm and Disney have many, many grand plans for Star Wars in the years ahead: The very first Star Wars theatrical spinoff, Rogue One, opens later this year. Episode 8 then hits theaters a year later (2017), followed by Han Solo’s own movie (2018). Next comes Episode 9 in 2019, followed by yet another spinoff reportedly focused on Boba Fett in 2020.

As for 2021 and beyond? Only time will tell, but we expect more movies set in the worlds of The Force Awakens, Rogue One, and now Han Solo.

The Han Solo spinoff will be directed by LEGO Movie helmers Phil Lord and Christopher Miller. They’re currently deep into pre-production, as this tweet from Lord this morning shows:

“This is the first film we’ve worked on that seems like a good idea to begin with,” the directors said last July. “We promise to take risks, to give the audience a fresh experience, and we pledge ourselves to be faithful stewards of these characters who mean so much to us. This is a dream come true for us. And not the kind of dream where you’re late for work and all your clothes are made of pudding, but the kind of dream where you get to make a film with some of the greatest characters ever, in a film franchise you’ve loved since before you can remember having dreams at all.”