GLENS FALLS — Truth be told, Sid Solomon, the star of the upcoming play “The Jedi Handbook,” is more of a “Trekkie.”
“I come from more of a ‘Star Trek’ family than a ‘Star Wars’ family,” Solomon admitted after rehearsal Tuesday. “But we did watch ‘Star Wars’ growing up, the original three films.”
The Brooklyn native knew enough about the Death Star to land the role of “the kid” in the Adirondack Theatre Festival’s next show, “The Jedi Handbook,” by Stephen Massicotte and directed by Chad Rabinovitz, ATF’s producing artistic director.
The play will open with a preview Friday (July 20) and run through July 27 at the Charles R. Wood Theater, 207 Glen St.
Besides Solomon, “The Jedi Handbook” stars Sam Kebede ("Mission Hamlet"), Janet Krupin ("Bring it On: The Musical") and Lucy Lavely ("One Man Two Guvnors"). Designers include Shane Cinal (scenic), Shannon O’Donnell (costume), Jon Fredette (sound), Jeffrey L. Small (lights) and Douglas Seldin (fight choreographer).
“The Jedi Handbook” takes audiences on a nostalgic journey back to 1977 when the first of the “Star Wars” movies was released. But the play, which is both dramatic and hilarious, is about the friendship between Solomon’s character and James, played by Kebede.
“ 'Star Wars' is the thing that sort of binds them together throughout their childhood,” Solomon explained. “We kind of see them go through from 1977, when ‘New Hope’ comes out, all the way through 1983, which is when ‘Return of the Jedi’ comes out. So you see them go from fourth grade to seventh grade to 10th grade, and how this movie sort of holds them together.”
This coming-of-age story is framed by a “Star Wars” set. Although no one plays any of the “Star Wars” characters, some of the parts do take on familiar tones, such as Lucy Lavely’s role as the boys’ teacher.
“Moving away, he is,” Lavely said during rehearsal. “Told you, did he?”
But the story is really about friendship, with “Star Wars” as the “force” that binds the two.
“Whether you’re a ‘Star Wars’ fan or not, everyone has a story of growing up and this is something that every person can connect with,” Rabinovitz said. “We all remember what it’s like to be in elementary school, figuring out how do you make friends.”
Part one of the play brings Solomon’s and Kebede’s characters together through their shared love of the “Star Wars” movies. The boys have lightsaber battles and act out scenes from the epic movies.
Part two of the play gets into middle school angst and introduces the idea of dating girls. The boys struggle with the idea of liking girls and the movies or, more importantly, if the girls will like them if they still love “Star Wars.”
“Very few plays remind me of how terrifying that moment was, how awkward it was,” Rabinovitz said.
The third part of the play is about growing up and growing apart and what they should leave behind.
“When a story that’s funny has this much heart,” Rabinovitz said, “it makes for a unique experience.”