Theatre department soars to new heights
It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s senior Kelly Vaughn!
For the first time in JC history, the theatre department is taking flight with this fall’s production of “Peter Pan.” A professional rigging system, which was installed on Oct. 23 in the auditorium, will allow four student actors to fly during the play.
According to Associate Director of Enrollment Kim Brueggemann, Peter Pan (Vaughn), John Darling (senior Conor DeVoe), Wendy Darling (senior Liz Johnson), and Michael Darling (St. Margaret’s School fifth grader Finn Bucci), all have “flying” roles.
“It’s very exciting,” said Brueggemann, who has wanted to do “Peter Pan” at JC for 13 years. “The entire story about [Peter] is that he flies. When I tell people we’re doing ‘Peter Pan,’ the first thing out of their mouth is ‘are they flying?’ It’s going to be big.”
Along with Ed Lake, father of senior Kelsey Lake who has a role in the production as Tiger Lily, Brueggemann researched the flying aspect of the play by calling and meeting with rigging companies “to make sure it was feasible. As soon as I knew we could fly, I made the decision to go forth and do the show,” she said.
Vaughn, who will be up in the air the longest during the show, admits it took a while to adjust to the system. “Honestly, it wasn’t love at first flight,” she said. “I was really scared, but it has progressively gotten better. In general, the flying is really exciting, and from what I’ve seen, it really adds a lot to the show.”
There are three rigs upstage and one rig downstage with two operators on each rig, according to Brueggemann. The operators consist of members of set crew and males who have small roles in the production.
“The flying component, not only onstage but offstage, is absolute choreography,” Brueggemann said. “They have to be able to understand the music and understand the counts of the music and know the songs well and know when the words come out to be able to understand the operating system. They have to prejudge it.”
Vaughn agreed with Brueggemann. “The guys behind the curtain are working harder than we are. Not only do they need to know when we go up and down, but they also have to keep us up,” she said.
Johnson, who along with Vaughn has a big flying role, also appreciates the operators of the rigs and values their contribution to the show. “You know, if they let go of the ropes, we fall, so I give [the operators] a lot of credit. It took us about three hours on the first day to get it right,” she said.
Although flying is a big advancement in the theatre department, Brueggemann believes “each year, everything we do is another turning point because we step pit of the box further and it’s our intent to make the performing arts program at JC the best in the county.”
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