CdS TheatreWorks performed its first show of the year, Star Wars Abridged, on Sept. 7 and 9 on the James C. Love stage. This reprisal of the play, which was performed in 2015, was well done.
The show condensed the original Star Wars trilogy into a play that ran under an hour, making the pace of this show quite fast. Having at least a basic knowledge of the trilogy was necessary to fully appreciate the play. Knowing iconic scenes and lines, such as Leia saying “I love you” to Han Solo before he was frozen in a carbonite refrigerator and Han Solo replying, “I know,” made the play that much more enjoyable. Audience members were able to remember their favorite parts and laugh at the silly, random moments in the movies that were humorously condensed in this play, like Luke’s character being super whiny.
The opening video was fantastically effective in setting the mood of the play. It included the famous scrolling exposition, which was also shortened, and toy ships on sticks that were flying through the stars. That opening scene captured the entire goofy homage to the original Star Wars trilogy.
This show was successful due in part to the amazing technical theater work. The set, costumes, props, lighting and sound effects were all simple, yet each element set the mood of the play and allowed the actors’ portrayal of these iconic characters to be the main focus. The best costume pieces and props were the buckets being used as the storm trooper helmets and using walkers to represent the Walkers. Both were very clever choices.
Moreover, the lighting kept the show’s pacing quick and established the tone of the scenes. Occasionally, red lights were used to illuminate a certain part of the stage. This transformed the set, where the background never changed, into something new. The lighting transitions were extremely smooth, which is a vital part in keeping the pace of the show and letting the audience know where they need to look. Because these transitions were so fast and seamless, the show carried on without long, awkward pauses and there was never confusion as to where one’s focus should be.
Because of the open set, the staging had to fill places of the stage where props and set pieces did not. The staging did just that. The best staging in this performance was when the cast and ensemble posed in a way that represented the movie poster of the particular episode that had just been completed. Each of the characters were positioned in a way that represented his/her role in the play.
Overall, the whole cast was very talented. They all embraced the goofiness of the play with a genuine seriousness that made the play enjoyable to watch. In fact, the scenes with junior Hunter Schineller as Obi-Wan Kenobi, senior Kohei Nelson as Luke Skywalker, senior Teddy Ladley as Han Solo, senior Nicolette Prindiville as Chewbacca, and junior Erik Rizert as C3PO were the strongest. The actors had great onstage chemistry, reacting to each other’s lines as actors are expected to. On top of that, their movements were never understated, so they always filled the small part of the stage that they occupied. Nelson did a good job of making a caricature out of Luke, who, in the movies, is often whiny. Nelson would often be crying, exaggerating that trait of Luke, which was fun to watch. Moreover, senior Hannah Brudnock had a string performance. She came across natural and her movements were purposeful.
With talented cast, many of the actors stood out, but there was something special about the onstage dynamic between Ladley and sophomore Camryn Haughton who played Lando. Haughton is a gifted actress; she always appeared comfortable on stage and she was always projected her lines. Haughton’s interactions with Ladley made their scenes together funny and great. Together, they brought a new energy on to the stage that elevated the scene.
Star Wars Abridged, an entertaining homage to the original trilogy, was a great start for this TheatreWorks season. It will be exciting to see what they bring to their next show, Into the Woods, a musical.