After teaching for the past three years at the annual Texas Thespian Festival, local writers Amy Shojai and Frank Steele came up with an idea to write a play about actors for actors. “Starz, the Musical” was born and soon the play will be presented to the people of Texoma during three performances in April at the Rialto Theater in Denison.
Auditions for the show will be held from 7:30-9 p.m. Monday and 6:30-9 p.m. Tuesday at Hope on Houston, 901 E. Houston St., in Sherman.
“The overarching themes deal with fighting stereotypes, finding acceptance, and following your heart,” Shojai said. “The opening song, ‘Misfit’ has each actor explain why he or she is there, ‘Maybe they don’t get it/And we agree it’s clear/With them, I am a misfit,/But I’m normal when I’m here.’”
“Starz” also deals with other themes actors commonly have to overcome.
“The song ‘Fit the Suit’ deals with trying to live up to others’ expectations, that one has to look or act a certain way to be cast in a given part,” Shojai said. “That translates to everyday life too don’t you think? Sometimes it takes a great deal of bravery to simply be yourself, and in the play, the characters each learn not only to embrace their own foibles, but also support each other and celebrate that success comes only when everyone works together toward a common glorious goal. The title song “Starz” speaks to that, ‘Together we’re better,/Be generous, Friend./No solo is ‘solo’/When all of us wins!”
“Starz,” Shojai said, is a review format show and includes a mix of funny to poignant scenes and songs, cast with a mix of body types, ages and genders. Characters are self-described misfits, who find a supportive and accepting family in the theater.
Featured parts include Wally, sports booster Dad, the reluctant Shirley, and her gung-ho pushy stage Mom, the class clown Shecky, nerdy Chance, Bubba who gets dragged to auditions by his girlfriend, the know-it-all Lance, deeply shy Poindexter, and outgoing cheerleader Bertha. Actors can also audition for a role as techies who help create theater magic. These roles include a pianist, stage manager, vocal coach, choreographer and directors.
“Oh my, there are so many parts that I love,” Shojai said. “The scenes with Dad and Wally really touch me. It’s clear they love each other, but struggle to understand and accept each other’s differences. The Dad’s song, ‘Make Me Proud’ makes me cry every time I hear it. Another character, one of the directors, has a killer monologue and song ‘Dreams Never Die,’ struggling to know when to give up on the acting dream. But probably my favorite song, a big flashy company number complete with rap, is ‘Fit the Suit.’”
“Starz” explores how artists often feel like misfits, and the various ways each ends up in theatre and finally feels like they belong.
“There really are no leads in this show — no stars to speak of,” Shojai said. “It’s very much an ensemble production. There could be as many as 19 featured roles, but we’ll likely double-cast a number of these, depending on those who audition. Even the chorus numbers have places for solo singing or dance features.”
Shojai said that the newly formed Shojai & Steele Plays write material for those performers that may feel that they do not fit into other shows. Shojai & Steele Plays also wrote and produced “Strays, The Musical” performed locally at the Sherman Honey McGee Theater and Hartman Middle School in Houston and “Kurves, the Musical” performed at the Rialto Theater in Denison.
Shojai said that she cannot wait for the people of Texoma to see Shojai & Steele’s Plays newest production.
“I would love to hear them say, ‘I laughed, I cried, I can’t stop humming the songs…I want to see it again!’” Shojai said. “And maybe, just maybe, be inspired to reach for their own ‘Starz.’”
Those interested in featured dance parts may be asked to demonstrate movement. Parts are available for non-singers as well as rappers, and ages 11 and up (including parents with kids) are encouraged to try out. A pianist and a CD player will be available for the auditions.
Rehearsals for “Starz” will be held from 6-9:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday. Shojai will coach music and Steele will direct the play. Choreography for the show will be handled by Amy Wallace. Those cast will be listed in the final script as originating their roles, and each participant will receive a copy of the published script.
For more information, visit https://AmyShojai.com/Plays.