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Henry Ford College’s ‘Shooting Stars’ Scores With 60s-Era Empowerment Story

From a rundown locker room comes the story of “The Shooting Stars,” a 1960s women’s basketball team like the Harlem Globetrotters who face an off-court challenge with grit and humor.

The show runs 8 p.m. Aug. 4, 5, 11 and 12 and 2 p.m. Aug. 6 and 13 at Henry Ford College’s Adray Auditorium in the MacKenzie Fine Arts Center, 5101 Evergreen, Dearborn.

The heartwarming comedy, written by Molly Newman, is directed by Mary Bremer-Beer. The cast features Dearborn residents Maddie Hall as Butch and Grace Obermiller as Gay; Anastasia Pauli of Lincoln Park as Shelby; Redford residents David Alexander as Cassius, the coach, and Naima Barker as Birdie; Natasha Hawkins of Romulus as Tammy; Michelle Renaud of Troy as Charlene; and Isabella Johnson of Warren as Wilma.

Bremer-Beer said the show is an interesting, historic slice-of-life set in the early 1960s when women were beginning to make their own decisions.

“They wanted empowerment, and they were starting to recognize that they could have their own careers, they could advance on their own, and they didn’t always have to do that for a man,” she said. “There was a lot of walking on eggs to make that happen, but it was really an exciting time, and now we are still working on that globally.”

Bremer-Beer said part of the appeal of the play is seeing young women become aware of their options during the rise of women’s liberation in the early sixties.

“These girls are proving that they can play the best – they can play like the men,” she said. “It’s an important period of time. It’s an important thing for us now in this world still. Plus it’s pretty funny.”

Alexander said he sees a definite advantage in performing in a play with seven young women, adding that he was a basketball junkie as a kid and “has the knees to prove it.”

“It was just serendipitous that I knew the game and I kind of know the milieu,” he said.

Alexander said his character is a bit of a scam artist, who seems overprotective of his players but who has been manipulating and taking advantage of them.

“It’s not about basketball,” he said. “It’s about women coming together and realizing their own potential after being let down by someone they looked up to, a supposed mentor.”

Pauli said her character wants her own way, but worries about her teammates and teases them to ease the tension before the game.

“It is funny, and the energy we bring to it will keep the audience watching,” she said.

Obermiller, a junior at Dearborn High School, said she played basketball up until last year, and can relate to the women’s desire to want to play the game as athletes and not as comic entertainers.

“It shows that women can do what men can do, standing up for what they believe in and wanting to play the right way,” she said. “I think that really shows them doing what they believe in and not what everyone expects.”

Hall said the team, whose gimmick is to play tricks on men’s teams to entertain and win, are faced with the challenge to set the tricks aside and play real ball.

“It’s a good show,” she said. “It’s a comedy, and there is not a lot of basketball in it, surprisingly, though it is about basketball. It’s mainly a girls’ comedy, like a chick flick. Everyone has their own personality. There’s a sassy one, a ditsy one, one that is always headstrong. It’s relatable.”