EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

May 3, 2012

'Star Wars' Abridged

Locals stage two-hour tribute to 12-hour saga

By Alexandra Pecci

Love "Star Wars" but don't have 12-plus hours to spend watching all six of the saga's films? As Yoda would say, "Just the thing we have for you."

On Saturday, May 5, the University of New Hampshire in Manchester's Brick and Mortar Theatre Group is staging "Star Wars: In a Nutshell," a play that condenses the six "Star Wars" movies into a single two-hour performance.

"A lot of people have grown up with 'Star Wars,' so I wanted to do something that everyone can enjoy," says U.N.H. senior Kelsey Carlson, 23, of Bedford, N.H., who wrote the script and is co-directing the show with Victoria DiPippo of Sandown, N.H. (Also look for Carlson on stage as the Gungan Jar Jar Binks).

Carlson says she started the writing process with the films themselves. She sat down and re-watched all six "Star Wars" movies in chronological order and wrote down key plot points, from finding Anakin Skywalker as a little boy, to his turn to the dark side, and finally, Luke Skywalker's victory.

"I pretty much tried to follow the plot lines," she says of her script. Although the play is a parody and has funny parts, she says it also has dramatic moments too; she was careful to note that she meant no disrespect to George Lucas. Instead, it might be seen has an homage.

"Star Wars: In a Nutshell" isn't the first "condensed" play written and produced by Brick and Mortar. The theater group has also tackled the Harry Potter series and the Twilight Saga.

"We just think it's a fun way to tell a tale without overwhelming the audience," Carlson says, adding that the condensed plays give audiences "the gist" of those huge yarns.

"While the stories are very good, sometimes it's just good to have a quick show," she says.

"Star Wars: In a Nutshell" not only aims to entertain and pay tribute to the classic films; the performance is also a fundraiser for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. All ticket sales will benefit the organization. In fact, Carlson says finding a way to raise money for cystic fibrosis was her main motivation for writing the condensed Star Wars script because two of her friends live with the disease.

"It's a struggle, it's a day to day challenge ...j ust struggling trying to get through hospital appointments," she says of her friends. Brick and Mortar's other plays have raised money for other organizations, too.

"We like to help charities as much as we can," Carlson says. "It's not easy living with an incurable disease."

Carlson has spent much of her time at U.N.H. in theater — either behind the curtain or on stage — and writing. But like Luke and Anakin, her destiny is in the sky. She'll be following in her grandfather's footsteps and joining the Air Force when she graduates in December. She's planning to go into military intelligence. Until then, though, she'll be honing her skills as a theater director.

"It's like taking on any activity. Making sure everything goes right, trying to get people to have fun and do their job, and be able to support people," she says. "It's just an interesting leadership experience."

If you go:

What: Star Wars: In a Nutshell

When: Saturday, May 5 at 3:00 pm and 6:00 pm

Where: UNH Manchester Auditorium, 400 Commercial St., Manchester

Cost: $5 for adults; $3 for students, seniors (60+), and military; children under 5 free

Learn more: brickandmortartheatregroup@gmail.com or call 603-641-4395