Mirroring the struggle of most college students, “Stairway to Stardom,” now showing at the HERE Arts Center, shares a unique experience of self-discovery and the pursuit of one’s dreams in life. The show features an all-female cast dressed in futuristic silver costumes dancing around the stage while delivering lines in monotonous, robotic tones. This is a theater experience that breaks the mold, in all the best ways, of traditionalBroadway plays. Fractions of conversations — that creatorAmanda Szeglowski, a former NYU professor, spent hours collecting through interviews with everyday people about the pursuit of their dreams— pair beautifully with dance breaks that pay homage to classic shows about fame.
The inspiration for this piece is a long-running television show, also called “Stairway toStardom,” that followed everyday people pursuing fame,much like “America’s Got Talent.” The script consisted of fragments of personal life stories that have a similar tone to those of the performers on the show. These were told to Szeglowski through interviews she conducted with people ages 16 to 100. The fragments are told in sections that portray the journey through life in an abstract take on a traditional plot.
Szeglowski described the show as having dark undertones as it explores the arduous road to fame and the bumps and failures along the way.This undertone is portrayed through hilarious storylines that are amplified by the lack of emotion on the faces and in the voices of the cast as the script delves into the turmoils of pursuing one’s dream.
“That specificity can only come through trust and joy,”choreographer Deborah Lohse said in a post-show Q&A session.She was referring to the relationship among the performers and their unison throughout their performance.
NYU was represented a part from Szeglowski, as well. Performer Ali Castro graduated from NYU with a B.F.A. in dance, a B.A. in journalism and a minor in entertainment law. The show exhibits some serious Violet talent with the performance from Castroin addition to the directing,writing and choreographing done by Szeglowski.
“Stairway to Stardom” is showing at HERE Arts center from now until Sept. 23.
A version of this article appeared in the Monday, Sept. 18 print edition. Email Amelia Reardon at [email protected]