Klein debuts a slam dunk

‘Shooting Stars’ double casting produces three solid performances

Erin Schilling, Editor-in-Chief

“We had sort of an extensive audition process for reading the characters because I had so many different ways I could go with the cast,” drama director David Klein said. “Eventually it turned out if we doubled those roles, we had really great actresses in those roles.”

The Advanced Drama II class performed last Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m. This year, the drama department brought in Klein as their new director and teacher after previous director David Spearman retired, and Klein began his first year already making some changes. He chose to have a double cast, with the junior cast performing on Saturday and the seniors on Friday and Sunday.

“I had an odd combination of students in my Advanced II class,” Klein said. “I had a lot of girls who wanted to act and only one guy. We found this script with seven girls and one guy, but I had more than seven girls who wanted to act, and I wanted to provide opportunities for all of them.”

No matter the cast, the girls had undeniable chemistry, whether they were supposed to be bickering or best friends. These relationships among each other and with Cassius, played by senior Hue Walsh, added dimension to a simple setting.

There was really no difference between the cast. They were equally high-quality.”

— Drama director David Klein

“There was really no difference between the cast,” Klein said. “They were equally high-quality.”

To accommodate these actresses, Klein found “Shooting Stars” by Molly Newman. The show is about a touring women’s basketball exhibition team during the week of Christmas in 1962. The girls get ready in their run-down locker room for their next game, revealing their polarizing personalities and life before the team, while the owner Cassius makes sure everything from their diets to their nails are perfect. But what happens when the girls want to be more than just a trick team and play real basketball?

The actors played off of each other well, and their long hours of rehearsals and classes paid off through their natural dialogue and body language. There was never a moment where an actor looked out of place on stage.

“As far as the acting went in the senior and junior production, they were overall really similar,” said senior Pamela Jew, who went to the Saturday and Sunday performances. “In the junior cast, Charlene (Avery Grillo) was more aloof and antagonistic, but the relationship between Shelby (Nora Bill) and Wilma (Dominique Dawson) was less friendly than the senior cast.”

Seniors Alexa Echevarria and Katie MacLauchlan played Shelby and Wilma with the senior cast, and they showed their friendship well on stage.

The team’s arguments and agreements all were relatable, and their goofing off elicited some laughs from the audience. There are definitely some lulls where a joke or two flopped or their petty teasing became repetitive, but overall the actors managed to spice up the stage with the personality they poured into their characters.

Cassius, Birdie and Butch, played by senior Hugh Walsh and juniors Jordan Bobbitt and Devin Fourqurean respectively, performed all three nights and embodied the attitudes of their characters perfectly. Walsh owned the stage as Cassius, demonstrating his controlling attitude through his presence and motions. Bobbitt never broke her Brooklyn accent or masculine persona, incorporating it into her walk and facial expressions, and Fourqurean pulled off the ups and downs her character goes through without a hitch.

Even when switching between the junior and senior cast, there was no obvious difference in their relationships with each character. And when the actresses switched, each girl added her own unique take on the character.

“They did have their own interpretations, and I wanted to allow them to have that,” Klein said. “For the sake of the other cast members, I had to keep certain choices really consistent with two people playing the same role.” Through subtle means, the girls brought differences to the characters in certain moments and had some leeway to show their own thoughts about the role they played.

Whichever night of the performance, the set remained as beautiful as ever. It took place completely in the team’s locker room, and it proved completely realistic. The swinging doors had the gym’s logo painted on them, and every detail was covered from basketball on the shelves, gym bags in the lockers and game strategies on the chalkboard. The cast thanked Bobbitt’s father, propmaster at Pinewood Atlanta Studios, for helping with the set.

The girls looked as good as their set too, with 60’s hair and makeup and skirts straight out of the history books. Tracy Rowell, an alumni mom and parent on the Starr’s Mill Production Board of Directors, helped with costumes, prop gathering and makeup. Senior crew member and Fourqurean also worked behind the scenes with makeup, and Klein had a professional connection for most of the outfits.

From costumes and set to casting and rehearsals, the preparation for “Shooting Stars” rounded out to create a dynamic play with relatable characters and dialogue. “I was really impressed by how it all came together,” Klein said.

Jew agreed and said that it was definitely worth seeing the play both nights. “I think the play was really funny, and it was a good production for the drama director’s first one here,” she said.