March 22, 2015 • 563 views
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In the world of theater, the stage door is used as the entrance to the backstage. Likewise, Presentation’s production of Stage Door allows the audience to see what life is like behind the scenes for theater performers.
Set in New York City in the 1930s, the play’s scenery consists of the living room of a boarding house bustling with actresses. Although the scene never changes, the audience does not feel cheated because there is always action from the people in the house or the beeping of the cabs just outside.
The gaggle of women constantly have somewhere to go, whether it be out to dinner with a beau or out to audition for what they hope to be their big break. With a flurry of time-appropriate dresses and costumes, these girls show spunk and wit in their artistic individualities.
One such hopeful starlet is Terry Randall, played by senior Courtney Baz. Randall’s passion for the stage is perfectly expressed by Baz, who captures her sincerity as well as her moments of anguish with skill. Randall overcomes trying experiences throughout the production, such as being torn between two men who pine after her and try to direct her down different paths that the theater world is shifting to: the stage and the screen.
Many other characters, including Jean Maitland (senior Ankita Bhanot), pick the side of the moving pictures, whose roles promise instant fame although they do not recognize actual talent. Maitland’s flamboyant makeover midway through the plot shows the falseness of a movie star’s character, while also providing comic relief.
As the show progresses, the lines pull at the heartstrings of the audience many times, eliciting sadness, sympathy, yearning, and laughter. Randall struggles to have her voice heard by the industry, but at the same time has been rejected for so long that she doubts her voice’s ability. Other actresses give up and leave, and new ones take their place.
Despairing scenes like these are balanced out by lighter characters, like over-the-top Mrs. Orcrutt, played by sophomore Ankitha Neelavar and comedic pianist Olga Brandt (sophomore Grace Bernal). No matter the hardships of the moment, there is always respite found on the worn and rowdy couches at Mrs. Orcrutt’s.
At the end of it all, the show leaves viewers questioning what is really important in life. Is it better to strive for something one loves with little chance of succeeding, or to take a shortcut and lose a part of oneself in exchange? Stage Door dances around this question for its duration, and challenges the audience to answer for themselves.