The Franchise Awakens

The Jedi Extraction Module Maximum Assistance (JEMMA) will be at the May 2 show of Star Stars. (The AT-AT will not be in attendance) (SUPPLIED)

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Coming soon in a theatre not so far away…

A local community theatre company is bringing one of the biggest science fiction sagas to town (well, sort of).

Star Stars: The Franchise Awakens is being brought to life by Flatlands Theatre Company at the P.W. Enns Centennial Concert Hall in May.

Written by playwright Dean O’Carroll, Star Stars is a loving parody of “that certain space adventure” that follows an enthusiastic fangirl, a reformed Scooper Trooper and a highly marketable robot as they battle the First Chapter to awaken the power of the Franchise.

Director Jeanette Hoeppner said she was impressed by the play right from the foreword, and said that O’Carroll (who grew up with the original series) was able to add a lot of different layers to the parody.

“Someone who has a bit of a concept of Star Wars but maybe hasn’t watched it, has just seen trailers will enjoy the evening,” she said. “More than he is making fun of it, he is having fun with it. To me that’s the difference between a farce making fun of things and a parody having fun with things.”

Parodies of sci-fi classics are nothing new, and Star Stars follows the lines of Mel Brooks’ Spaceballs and Galaxy Quest (a Star Trek spoof).

Hoeppner said this play is family friendly, however. “I’ve had a few people ask me if it’s Spaceballs, but there’s no Schwartzing going on,” she said.

The cast’s level of familiarity with the Star Wars series varied from those who have seen the originals to those who regularly do marathons of the series.

Hoeppner said one of the biggest challenges they faced was putting character names from the parody to their corresponding characters from the series.

“There’s two scenes in Act Two where we just have a montage of characters from various films coming out for a line,” she said. “It happens really fast but it’s important we know even for one line who are you representing.”

Sasha Dyck plays Zap, the enthusiastic fangirl, and Dyck said the role was quite relatable. “She was not fully a part of this universe before, but she had always appreciated it,” she said. “Now she has a chance to delve deep into what it’s all about.”

Dyck got into the Star Wars franchise when the newest movies came out. As with fans all around the world, she said some of the cast members disagreed on which Star Wars movies they liked best.

“I would hear some negative points for the newest movies,” she said. “For me personally I really enjoyed them and I appreciate them because they brought me more into this universe that I didn’t really think to look into before. I feel like I had a little bit of a different point of view than maybe some of the older cast members who grew up with Star Wars.”

Dyck said part of the appeal is the vastness of the Star Wars universe. “All these different characters from all across the galaxy, their stories are all intertwined, leading to ‘Is this good, is this bad,’” she said. “That’s really a question that everyone seems to answer themselves.”

Even if you haven’t seen any of the original movies, Hoeppner said the night will still be enjoyable. “People that don’t know the series very well at all, they’re going to have fun with the funny little bits we’ve added in and the comedy pieces,” she said. “Those that know their stuff really well will just enjoy all the little bits that [O’Carroll] has put in there.”

Flatlands Theatre puts on two main stage productions and a student production a year. Members will also be at Bethel Heritage Park in Winkler on summer Mondays performing radio plays, and will also practice character work at the Pembina Threshermen’s Museum.

There will be some extras for fans at certain performances. On Thursday May 2, J.E.M.M.A. (Jedi Extraction Module Maximum Assistance) will be coming out to the show. The Resistance vehicle is designed by a friend of a cast member and was inspired by Poe Dameron’s X-wing starfighter.

The Resistance Jeep will be parked in front of the concert hall and will be available for photos.

On May 4 (Star Wars Day) Hoeppner is urging attendees to come out in their favourite costume, Star Wars related or not.

“We were saddened, we had a whole bunch of stuff we were going to be doing at Comic Con this year,” she said. “When it got cancelled, we thought we knew of a few people that had already started working on their costumes and now they’re like ‘What do we do?’ It’s kind of like a version of a Comic Con, come on out and enjoy each other’s looks.”

The show runs May 2-4 at 7:30 p.m. and May 5 at 3 p.m. at P.W. Enns Centennial Concert Hall. Tickets are available at www.winklerconcerthall.ca or at the door 30 minutes before each performance.

The cast of Star Stars (Scooper Troopers, CHIP, Captain Phlegma, Emo Whine, Quoth Nevermore and Ledge End Sagga) prepare for the show, which runs May 2-5. (SUPPLIED)

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