'Making it believable'
Theater students spend summer studying scripts, preparing for year's first production of 'Boeing-Boeing' by Arizona Repertory Theatre
While most students spend the start of their semester gearing up for classes and buying textbooks, Silvia Vannoy has been researching how to be funny.
Vannoy, a musical theater junior, has a lead role in “Boeing-Boeing,” Arizona Repertory Theater’s first production of the semester, set to premiere on Sunday. Rehearsals for the play began in the middle of August, a week before classes started, under the direction of Brent Gibbs, an associate professor in the School of Theatre, Film and Television.
The French farce is set in the 1960s and follows Bernard, an architect from Paris who is dating three stewardesses, each from different airlines. When all three women land in Paris simultaneously, Bernard is forced to find a way out.
In spending all summer preparing for her role as Gloria, a flight attendant from Texas, Vannoy said she learned the rules of farce and drew inspiration from renowned Italian movie star Sophia Loren. Vannoy said that as an actress, she needs to be able to transfer a character onto the stage without thinking, adding that she worked extensively on developing the metaphors and hidden motives that drive her character’s actions.
“You have to not be afraid to make it believable,” Vannoy said. “I looked into what it takes to be a Southern woman and practiced channeling ‘sexy girl’ vibes. The cast comes together and collaborates to make the show as funny as possible. We are always looking for ways to make the show grow.”
In his Arizona Repertory Theater debut, acting junior Parker Janecek will play the lead role of Bernard. After being cast at the end of last semester, Janecek spent the summer studying clips of Gene Kelly, Clark Gable and other classic actors from the 1950s and 1960s. Other groundwork included practicing American stage speech and his awareness of vocal quality.
The show’s value, Janecek said, lies in the “chemistry between the characters.”
Janecek said his performance isn’t solely based on his character’s dialogue.
“This is a high-energy show,” Janecek added, referring to the physical demands of his role. “By the time I finish a performance, all I want to do is sleep. It is both a mental and physical workout for the actors.”
Behind the curtains, members of the crew have also been at work through the summer putting together the play’s set, designing costumes and making props. Design and technology senior Taryn Wintersteen started preparing the set design for “Boeing-Boeing” seven months ago. With the production’s debut just around the corner, Wintersteen said she’s proud of her work.
“It is rewarding to see my design become a physical manifestation on the stage,” Wintersteen said.
Stage management sophomore Fatimah Amill is trying her hand at stage managing for the first time with “Boeing-Boeing.” The production calls for more props than usual, Amill said, which has been challenging. Still, Amill said she looks forward to what she takes away from the experience.
“I’ll be better at what I do by the end,” Amill added.
“Boeing-Boeing” features a lot of sounds built from scratch, many of which were created by sound designer Daniel Colecchia, who was given the freedom to create many of his own unique effects.
“I composed sounds to fit the theme of the play,” Colecchia said. “There was a lot of trial and error with the director … I learned a lot.”
“Boeing-Boeing” will play in the Marroney Theatre with student admission set at $19. The show will preview on Sunday at 1:30 p.m. and Tuesday at 7:30 p.m., with a reduced price of $17 for admission.
“We love to have college kids come see our shows,” Janecek said. “Come support your fellow Wildcats.”