#TBT: Revisiting Prudence From ACROSS THE UNIVERSE

Originally published on September 14, 2017

Entertainment Weekly unexpectedly made me realize how much time has passed, when it released a listicle today of the songs from the Beatles jukebox musical ACROSS THE UNIVERSE, in honor of its tenth anniversary. In the midst of praises for Evan Rachel Wood’s vocal performances throughout the film, one that stands out is the only performance from the character Prudence (played by T.V. Carpio).

This is what Entertainment Weekly makes of Carpio’s slowed down rendition of “I Want To Hold Your Hand”:

T.V. Carpio’s Prudence, like Wood, is one of the most skilled singers in the film, and her masterfully measured vocals, along with the poignant moment when she walks through a slow-motion football practice, perfectly conveys the longing that might be lost in the rapid versions of this serenade.

Without a doubt, Carpio proves to be an effective performer just from that scene alone. Too bad that that’s really the only part of the film where she really gets to shine.

Apart from having only one song in the entire film, Prudence is not as prominent of a character as opposed to the others (SPOILERS up ahead for those who’ve never seen ACROSS THE UNIVERSE). When singing “I Want To Hold Your Hand,” it’s quick to learn that Prudence is a lesbian, as she suffers from rejection from a fellow female cheerleader. After dropping out of high school, she hitch hikes to New York City, where she joins the other characters in their little sliver of Greenwich Village. Prudence finds herself drawn to aspiring singer Sadie (Dana Fuchs), but is once more overcome with feelings of rejection when Sadie and Jojo (Martin Luther McCoy) begin a relationship. After a brief stint as part of Mr. Kite’s circus, she rejoins her friends halfway through the film… and that’s about it for her.

I’ve always found Prudence to be the most underdeveloped character in ACROSS THE UNIVERSE, for she had so much potential. Apart from being the only Asian American among the group of friends, she was also the only LGBT member. It just felt like she was there for the sake of creating a diverse image, and that’s it.

It’s sadly not too surprising though when put in perspective. ACROSS THE UNIVERSE came out in 2007; a full decade ago as of today. There was not as big of a push for diversity for characters then as opposed to now, and to have a female LGBT Asian American onscreen was something that, while good to see, was not going to be as fleshed out.

If ACROSS THE UNIVERSE were made today, or maybe even be adapted for Broadway, I would love to see what direction Prudence’s character development could go in.

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