Cedarville brings the Neil Simon classic, ‘The Star-Spangled Girl,’ to life
What do the Olympics, Martin Luther King Jr., San Francisco, a duck, handcuffs, Elvis, a telescope and a magazine all have in common? Well, Cedarville will find out on March 29-31 and April 12-14 when the university’s theatre department brings these elements together in Neil Simon’s hilarious comedy “The Star-Spangled Girl.”
In a change from the past two main stage shows Cedarville has put on this year (“And Then There Were None,” a suspenseful mystery by Agatha Christie, and “The Crucible,” a thought-provoking drama by Arthur Miller), “The Star-Spangled Girl” follows Cedarville’s tradition of performing a comedy in the spring.
The play is about two roommates, Andy and Norman, trying to start their own novice magazine in the 1960s. Their world is changed when a new female neighbor, Sophie, arrives and Norman falls head over heels for her. In doing so, he displays his affections in many heartfelt ways – or so he believes. As sweet as he may think his gifts and favors are, they become a health hazard to poor Sophie. Through the course of the play, Andy serves as a mediator between the two, which only brings more complexity to his stressful, hectic life.
From the moment the audience steps in, they’ll be transported back about 40 years to the San Francisco of yesteryear. As stage manager Stephanie Anderson said, the mood will be set by 60s music, and Andy and Norman’s “funky” apartment will be furnished with “all kinds of junk and mess and weird props” specific to the era.
Director Mischelle McIntosh agreed about the unique atmosphere the show will certainly create for viewers.
“If they were alive during the 60s, they can expect to come in and see things that will take them back down memory lane,” McIntosh said. “They’ll hear music that will do the same thing and will spark memories. If they weren’t alive then, they’ll certainly get a taste of the 60s.”
Another appealing element of this show is its strong cast.
“We have some of our best actors in this show,” Anderson said. “They’re very seasoned and putting on a really funny show.”
In this cast of three, none are new to main stage productions. Josiah Smith, a junior comprehensive communications and theater design major, has been in five main stage shows, including “And Then There Were None” and “The Importance of Being Earnest.” His character, Andy Hobart, is “a little bit more of the business type,” he said. “He’s the more serious character, and yet he is definitely fun loving. But when that magazine isn’t getting done, he gets very strict and wants it finished. He is a lot of fun to play.”
Josiah Hutchings, a junior theater performance major, has appeared in six main stage shows including “And Then There Were None” and “The Crucible.” He described his part of Norman Cornell: “He is a writer. He grew up in the WWII era, so his parents weren’t always around. He was raised by his grandparents, who encouraged him in his writing. But he’s also very socially awkward, and he really doesn’t understand how to relate to people.”
Lindsay McGee, a sophomore theater performance and design major, counts this as her third main stage role, the others being Minnie Fay in “Hello, Dolly!” and Mary Warren in “The Crucible.”
McGee shared a little bit about her character’s background: “She is an Olympic swimmer, and she has moved to SF in order to stay close to her fiancé, who is on a US marine base nearby. She’s also going to be training for the Olympics. She’s very sweet and a fun-loving girl. She also gets very sassy and feisty as the play progresses.”
Coming into this show, the audience can expect to have a good time. The cast and crew noted the play’s unexpected humor, as well as a lot of silly one-liners that are typical of a Neil Simon play.
“They can expect two hours, approximately, of pure fun and ridiculousness,” Anderson said. “I call it a sitcom on stage.”
“You can expect to come in and laugh and have a good time,” McIntosh said.
This play offers something that is innate in comedy, entertainment and relaxation. As Smith said, “I think when viewers come in, what they’re going to find that’s really nice is that they don’t have to think. It’s not for a complex mind. It’s nice to come to this show and have a relief. I think at this time of year we all could just use a good laugh.”
An element that makes this show a must-see is its ability to display events that happen in life in an applicable yet farcical way. As McGee said, “It has a lot of thematic elements and situations that, although they’re very dramatic when you go back to the basis, a lot of us are dealing with the same kinds of situations in real life.”