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Goes ahead and plays the star part (5,3,4)


I believe the answer is:

takes the lead

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'goes ahead' is the definition.
Although both the answer and definition are verbs in their -s form, I can't understand how one could define the other.

'plays the star part' is the wordplay.
'plays' becomes 'takes' (I can't explain this - if you can you should believe this answer much more).
'star part' becomes 'lead' (I've seen this in another clue).
'takes'+'the'+'lead'='TAKES THE LEAD'

'and' acts as a link.

Can you help me to learn more?

I've seen this clue in The Globe and Mail.
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