Audiences at “Book of Days” — Staples Players’ Black Box Theater production that opens tonight and runs through Sunday — will see a complex show. Part murder mystery, part family saga, part comedy, it’s an intriguing, contemporary piece set in a small, present-day Midwestern town.
Part of the plot involves a play within a play. It’s challenging to the actors — but that’s been the hallmark of Players since their founding 51 years ago.
And — as this cast proves — acting is not simply an after-school activity at Staples. It’s a way of life — an all-consuming passion that often extends into college, and beyond.
In fact, of the 12 actors in “Book of Days,” nearly all will continue their theater education once they leave Westport.
Shannon Walsh, for example, will study acting next year at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. A gymnast nearly full time until junior year, she leaped into acting full time. She took classes in New York, joined Players — and less than 2 years later was accepted into a very competitive acting program.
Maya Hubbard will also got to NYU for acting — at the same Stella Adler Studio as Shannon.
Dan Shure will study theater directing at Skidmore College.
Max Stampa-Brown, whose “Book of Days” character speaks in tongues — talk about a challenge! — is headed to the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, for acting.
The passion for theater extends to the tech crew too. Sound technician Robinson Batteau will study audio production next year at SUNY-Purchase.
Current juniors are burnishing their resume this summer. Max Samuels will attend a summer acting program at Yale, while Matt Van Gessel, Whitney Andrews and Glenn Leo all plan to audition for college acting or directing programs.
(Matt might want to show colleges the trailer he made for the show — click here for a great YouTube clip.)
The cast and crew has had just 5 weeks to prepare for “Book of Days” — a compressed time frame that’s given them a taste of the real theater world. They developed characters, memorized lines and blocked scenes with the seriousness this show demands.
“They’ve been an inspiration to us as directors,” said directors David Roth and Kerry Long. “The way they’ve risen to the challenge has made us even more confident of their success at their college programs.”
Which is where so many Players end up, when their Staples days are done.
(“Book of Days” will be presented tonight, tomorrow and Saturday (May 13-15, 7:30 p.m.) and Sunday (May 16, 3 p.m.) in the Black Box Theater. Click here to order tickets.)