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Leading ladies step confidently through ‘Stage Door’

Placer High School takes stab at 1936 classic play
By: Paul Cambra, Features Editor
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Stage Door
When: 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 16 and Saturday, Nov. 17
Where: Placer High School
Cost: $5
Info: www.puhsd.k12.ca.us/placer

Tonight, the Placer High School drama department will put on a stage play that celebrates the stage play.
It will feature young actresses playing young actresses.
Aspiring thespians honing their craft playing – you guessed it – aspiring thespians honing their craft.
And in the process, it will take a swipe at the movie industry.
“This play is sort of like ‘Singing in the Rain’ because it’s about changing times as it involves art. But this play’s message is that change is bad,” said junior Taylor Avalos, 17. “Movies are a bastardization of theater and as far as actual actors go, it’s not acting. It’s more for the studios and the producers.”  
Avalos plays David Kingsley, a theater producer in the 1930s who opts to go into film out of necessity.
“He actually detests them,” Avalos said. “It’s not exactly practical, but it’s a good historical piece as it involves the culture of the time … a lot of people didn’t like movies, saw them as a threat.”
The play follows the story of Terry Randall, an aspiring young actress living in a New York City boarding house chock full of aspiring young actresses. It is a story of hope and ambition, of courage and determination. And talent – be it raw or unrealized. This makes this play a good fit for the current cast at Placer.
 “We have a lot more students that are new to the drama program and not as experienced,” said director Lori Ibrahim. “It’s pretty interesting. I think I am trying to get them to understand the importance of becoming the character and making them believable. They are getting it. They are pulling into it.”
Ibrahim said they have kept the play in its original time period of the mid-to-late ’30s, when Hollywood was barely 10 years removed from its silent era and still considered an upstart industry.
“The thing I like about the play is it brings out their love for acting on the stage and in the ’30s the movies stepped in and took away a lot of the actors from the stage,” Ibrahim said. “That’s kind of what this play is all about. It’s that whole emotional battle the actresses are going through; you see that different ones are going in different directions.”
Sophomore Zoë Johnson, 15, plays Terry Randall, a role played by Katherine Hepburn in the 1937 movie adaptation. Johnson watched clips from the film to get an idea of how they walked and talked during that time period.
“They were more proper in the ’30s,” Johnson said. “They wore dresses a lot, so they sat sideways. And the vocabulary was different.”
She said she found it a little awkward in the beginning, “just standing there,” but she really connected with the character she played.
“I relate to her a little bit. She is a strong-willed person trying to get her start in the world, trying to fight off the people who tell her she can’t make it,” Johnson said. “I want to be a singer and it’s really hard, people tell me I’m not going to make it. I’ve sang in front of audiences and it made me open my eyes that I can fulfill my dreams.”
Two performances remain, at 7 p.m. both today and Saturday. It’s a chance to step outside the comfort zone of your DVR and experience some living, breathing entertainment.
“Personally, I enjoy movies a lot, but there is something about live theater that has a certain feel to it,” said junior James Vaughan, 16. “I have a passion for both. I’m the assistant to the director on this play and I’m learning about the stress that goes into a production like this and all the things you have to consider.”
So no matter where you stand on the Broadway vs. Hollywood debate, “Stage Door” offers a fresh perspective, brought to you live from the next generation of aspiring stars.