The Star Spangled Girl: Satire provides unstoppable laughter and enjoyment for all


Photo by Faith Martinez

Marking their final performance, seniors, (left to right) Joel Sappington, Dane Bundy and Kerri Sloan give the audience a laugh-out-loud performance.

What happens when you combine an overly-zealous, patriotic Southern belle with an overwhelmingly lovesick writer and a harried editor? A strong plot and a successful play, according to sophomore Whitney Goebel.

“They are really good actors, and the play is really funny,” said Goebel, who attended The Star Spangled Girl on Saturday, Feb. 23. Indeed, from its opening night on Thursday, Feb. 21, The Star Spangled Girl has kept audiences —ranging from Biola students to faculty and alumni — amused and engaged.

Neil Simon’s The Star Spangled Girl, first produced in 1966 and published in 1967, is a comedy about two young men with radical ideas in the 1960s who struggle to keep their “protest” magazine alive. The play highlights the predicaments that occur once a perky, patriotic and pretty girl moves into the apartment next door.

When asked about the selection of Simon’s work for the communication studies’ winter play, director Forrest Robinson, who has worked at Biola University for six years, smiled nostalgically and leaned back in his seat.

“We did this same lineup 25 years ago,” he reflects. “We’re repeating the sequence in order to celebrate the 100 years and bring back the past. In fact, the two guys who starred in the play 35 years ago are being flown in with their families and their director so they can see this year’s version!”

From senior Kerri Sloan’s Southern accent distinguishing the proud Sophie Rauschmeyer to senior Joel Sappington’s extreme antics as the love-struck Norman Cornell, each cast member depicts his or her character convincingly, by using gestures and animated facial expressions. Another standout performance was from senior Dane Bundy who plays perpetually stressed Andy Hobart. The disgust and exasperation his character felt on numerous occasions was clearly portrayed, and the heated, dramatic arguments involving Andy, Sophie and Norman toward the end of the play captivated the audience.

In addition to convincing performances by the cast, the scenery provides the appropriate atmosphere for the various scenes. The setting, which remains constant for the duration of the play, truly depicts an “American” dwelling in San Francisco during the late 1960s. The various items used on set, which include a typewriter, a simple lamp and an old-fashioned telephone, portray the antiquity of the 1960s. The simplicity of the set — a small table and desk, a few chairs and a couch —help emphasize the poverty of Andy and Norman, as well as the lack of space in the studio apartment.

The Star Spangled Girl brings out the best in its small but power-packed cast: Bundy, Sappington and Sloan demonstrate good stage chemistry, which makes for a fascinating performance. The actors’ smooth interactions, characterized by clear, enunciated dialogue and appropriate gestures, reveal the result of many hours of long rehearsals. The lively banter between Bundy and Sloan is particularly effective, holding the audience’s attention through the use of rapid exchanges and terse witticisms.

For the cast members, performing The Star Spangled Girl is both a challenging and rewarding experience.

“There were lots of struggles involved, especially with the amount of material I needed to memorize,” said Bundy.“The first few performances were rough.”

Sappington agreed.

“It is a props-heavy and physical play,” Sappington said. “The set is very much part of the play. The hard part was that we did not get some of the props until the week before the play; up until them, we had been miming them.”

The rigorous rehearsals, which began on Jan. 1 for four days a week every week, usually for three hours, also proved to be an arduous undertaking.

“The week before the play, we had rehearsals for six days; we also had to paint and touch-up the sets,” Sappington said.

In spite of the trials they faced, the actors were able to overcome various obstacles and enjoyed the experience overall.

“I knew Joel and Kerri would be playing the other parts, and they’re top-notch actors,” Bundy says. “Working with them is great: they are so talented and make it really fun. I really wanted to work with Forrest too; he’s a wonderful director.”

The feelings of gratitude and respect are mutual, according to Robinson.

“The actors are so wonderful, and I get a lot of contribution from them,” he said. “My most favorite moments are when ‘creating and exchanging.’ If they propose something and it fits the vision, I say, ‘Let’s do it!’”

While a message of democracy and a satire on “super patriotism” underlies Simon’s play, Sappington hopes the audience members leave the play with smiles after nearly two hours of laughter and fun.

“I really hope they [the audiences] enjoy it,” he said, grinning. “I hope they forget about all their troubles and just get lost in this world of crazy characters.”

The Star Spangled Girl will be playing for two more weekends at 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 4 p.m. on Sundays. Admission costs $8 for students and alumni, and general admission is $10. For more information, visit Biola’s web site:

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