“Staar Waars”

Before the the final performance of “Staar Wars,” senior Ben Granger lurked backstage, preparing to watch his creation come alive on the auditorium floor.

The cast patiently awaited their cue, a scrolling introduction broadcast on the stage screen. Junior Chad Dyer as “Luke Skywalker” spent the time vigorously hovering over the props, confirming their readiness.

Suddenly, the projector malfunctioned, leaving the audience in an expectant silence.

“I had people running up to me and telling me ‘the projector isn’t working, the projector isn’t working!’” Granger said.

Co-creator and senior Hollis Jenkins left his piano in a desperate attempt to recover smoothly. Abandoning hope of regaining the use of the projector, the cast quickly moved to the first scene. Dyer marched onto the stage and began singing his introduction.

“I was a little concerned,” Jenkins said. “But you kind of have to prepare yourself for anything.”

Over the play’s three-day run, Granger watched with a sense of awe.

“It was kind of weird,” he said. “It was really weird, actually, watching it happen, watching our work performed in front of an audience.”

In the parody of the “Star Wars” movies, Skywalker leaves his drunken, bickering Aunt and Uncle on his Jedi journey under the tutelage of Master Obi-Wan Kenobi, played by junior Huynh Pham. He receives transportation from Han Solo, or senior Nathan Crooks, and his puppet-partner Chewbacca, who are being chased by a jazz singing Boba Fett, played by senior Alex Hernandez.

Along the way he meets senior Lindsey Vrana as Princess Leia, who he disappointedly (after nearly kissing) learns is his twin sister. This motley crew uses “the Force” to destroy the singing, rotating, confetti blaster wielding Death Star, personified by senior Jeffery Black.

R2D2, portrayed by senior Meric Sorelle crouched inside a painted garbage can, wobbled across the stage beeping and whistling his lines into a microphone.
“It was very cramped in the garbage can,” he said. “I am very tall and the garbage can definitely is not.”

As the curtains closed, and the audience members left their seats, Jenkins reflected on the successful production.

“That’s the best feeling in the world, when it’s a great show,” he said. “Everything went perfectly, it’s kind of intoxicating.”

Granger estimated 700 people saw the play.

“I really wasn’t expecting that many people,” he said. “Especially for a senior directed play.”

The idea of spoofing the science fiction franchise started taking shape around January.

“The show itself was written by me, the music was written by him,” Granger said.  “Couldn’t have one without the other.”

Granger approached Jenkins with a rough draft of the script and requested his insight on composing the music due to his experience and musical talent. Jenkins plays multiple instruments such as piano, guitar, violin, viola and also the dulcimer, an instrument with a long rounded body and a fretted fingerboard.

“We work really well together, that’s the main thing,” Jenkins said. “We complement each other.”

He has written plenty of music in his leisure, but said this experience was his first time creating music for a theater piece.

“I would have to say that writing it was pretty straight forward,” Jenkins said. “The trouble came when trying to teach others what I was hearing in my head.”

Early preparation for the play began when Granger and Jenkins, who were in theater for several years, went to the late theater director Marilyn Miller last year and proposed creating a musical comedy as their directorial debut.

“We’ve had students direct plays, but they haven’t written their own material,” the new theater arts director Marilyn Ocker said. “This is the first student written-student directed play in the seven years I’ve been here.”

Sorelle said he thought the play went well.

“I just wish we would’ve had a bigger trash can,” he said.