Sunday, July 31 – Selena Gomez & the Scene
(Note: The following is not a joke.) When Miley Cyrus poked fun at her home planet, the Disney Channel, on Saturday Night Live in the sketch “Disney Channel School of Acting” – advice included “talk louder than anyone else in the scene” – she wasn’t lying. There’s certainly a right and wrong way to behave within the time-tested, tween-approved Disney/Nick canon, and right is still pretty unbearable. Then there’s Selena Gomez. On the surface, she’s a Disney Channel starlet currently dating the Biebster. Those are the bullet points. But pay closer attention and you can catch the very beginnings of a gigantic star-in-the-making in Hollywood’s galaxy; the kind that wins Oscars 10 years from now. She can, as the sketch advises, “disrespect authority” and “pause then diss” with the best/worst of them, but her Disney Channel vehicle, the annually Emmy-nominated Wizards of Waverly Place, helmed by wickedly clever veterans of Friends, Married with Children and Growing Pains, allows Gomez to be her natural, effervescent self, and the results are kind of revolutionary. Consider the game-changing episode, “Wizards vs. Werewolves,” from last year, in which Gomez’ Alex finally learns that her love interest is a werewolf – one of the few dramatic episodes seen on the network. The bittersweet climax points the camera at Gomez and never lets up. Suddenly, she’s vulnerable, exposed and utterly heartbreaking. The result: That episode garnered the show’s highest ratings ever to that point and beat out anything on the major networks that night. Since that moment, Gomez has become an unstoppable force in the tweenverse, transferring that same wizened vulnerability and emotional intelligence to her music with backup band the Scene. Although albums have become a necessity for tween actors, Gomez approaches muscular pop songs like “Naturally,” “A Year Without Rain” and her biggest hit, “Who Says,” with abnormal (for her genre) vocal honesty and wit. This weekend she plays the St. Augustine Amphitheater. Before you know it, she’ll be appearing onstage at the Kodak Theatre. Trust us. – Justin Strout (with Allstar Weekend, Christina Grimmie; 7 p.m. at the St. Augustine Amphitheatre; sold out; 904-209-0367; staugamphitheatre.com)
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