All reviews are written by Cappies student critics and edited by Cappies adult mentors prior to publishing.
Jacob Savage, a student at South Lakes High School reviews “Stage Door” performed by Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology , as part of The Cappies Critics and Awards Program .
Can one truly compare the differences between stage and screen? While there may not be much to compare in the minds of a contemporary viewer, to an individual trying to make a career in the performing arts it makes all the difference, especially during the early twentieth century. This simple question is the starting point of all the issues in Thomas Jefferson High School’s production of Stage Door.
Stage Door is a comedic show written by Edna Ferber and George S. Kaufman in 1936. The plot involves the inhabitants of the boarding house owned by Mrs. Orcutt (Sarah Stites), all aspiring young actresses looking for their big break. Most notable is the vivacious Terry Randall (Kate Sanders), as she struggles to make a name for herself on Broadway. She is helped most notably by David Kingsley (Rishi Malhotra), a Hollywood producer and Keith Burgess (Daniel Sainati), a young playwright.
In a cast of melodramatic young ladies, a respectable number stood out as notable, such as Jordan Goodson as the judgmental Judith Canfield and Yena Seo and Sib Shewit as the ‘Marys’, a pair of similarly behaved performers who displayed excellent chemistry and coordination in their dual performances. Despite the repetitiveness of the portrayals of some of the girls, a few were additionally instantly recognizable, particularly Hannah Wied as the naïve Bernice, Heather Storeide as the southern belle Bobby, and Valerie Nguyen as Mattie, the temperamental maid.
The stars of the show, however, were Kate Sanders and Christine Jacobs as Terry Randall and Kaye Hamilton respectively. Sanders, in her portrayal of the torn young actress, won the audience’s hearts with her reaction to the hardships that her character faced, yet delivered her more amusing lines with superb comic timing. Jacobs, on the other hand, gave a much more sympathetic performance while conveying the depression and emotional despair that her character goes through, leading to a shocking emotional display at the character’s eventual fate.
The actors of the production were led by Malhotra and Sainati as the two men who aid Terry’s career throughout the show. Malhotra in particular, in his role as the Hollywood producer, had a commanding stage presence that was upstaged only by his own comic timing. This was rivaled only by Sainati’s convincing performance as a “sell-out”, using subtle changes in the character’s personality to his advantage.
Despite these strong points, there were some issues with the show. Some ensemble members had very little characterization, making it difficult to differentiate between characters in some scenes. Additionally, the set was also shown to be very fragile, at some points even breaking during the middle of the action. However, this was offset by the great recoveries on the part of several of the actors, and the sound and light effects present throughout the show.
Overall, Thomas Jefferson High School managed to pull off the drama and comedy behind the show quite well in several separate aspects of the piece. This ensemble production is one well worth seeing, particularly the climax of each particular scene. In the end the superb performance by the cast and crew demonstrated that, at least for this particular show, the stage may be the better choice after all.