Lehigh’s department of theatre is currently presenting “Boom,” a comedy about celebrating life against all odds. The play opened in the Diamond Theater on Friday and plays through March 5.
“The play explores how utterly irrepressible life really is,” play director Augustine Ripa wrote in an email..
Ryan Herbert, ’16, plays Jules, a marine biologist who puts an ad in the paper for no-strings-attached sex. When the ad is answered by an undergraduate journalism student named Jo, played by Paige Hapeman, ’19, things take a turn. Earth is hit with a major global catastrophe, changing the plot from a date night to the holding of humanity’s fate in the characters’ hands.
In an email, Herbert wrote he has had a great experience working on “Boom,” and that his character has come somewhat naturally to him. Similar to Jules, who is a scientist, Herbert is majoring in environmental science and planning to move toward evolution programs in graduate school.
“I’ve had a lot of fun exploring his character, at times exaggerating my own traits and, at others, discovering key differences,” Herbert said.
Hapeman plays Jo, one of the few other characters in the show, and, in an email, wrote she has loved playing her character. Hapeman said the style of this play is different than a traditional show. She said being involved with the theatre department at Lehigh has helped her transition to into college life. Using it as an outlet to express herself, Hapeman said she believes that with “Boom,” in particular, she has faced many challenges, but it has only made her acting abilities stronger.
“My character is told that she ‘sucks happiness out of a room’ and is ‘atmospherically unpleasant,’ so it’s always fun to get up on stage and transform into a completely different person,” Hapeman said.
Students auditioning for the play don’t read from prepared scripts, but are instead given lines on stage and recite them back for ten minutes. After the brief reading, callbacks are held the next day. Actors and actresses who are called back then give different interpretations of the characters they are auditioning for and are told to express their understanding of the roles.
For Hapeman, the theatre department is still somewhat new. Last semester, she was cast as Annette in “God of Carnage.” “Boom” is the second play she is involved with at Lehigh.
For this particular show, Hapeman said she enjoyed private auditions more because she was less nervous. She said she felt great about her private audition, but callbacks made her nervous, because she was performing against her competition for one spot.
“I left callbacks feeling like I tried my best, but not very confident in my performance, so I was extremely excited when I found out that I was cast,” she said.
As a newcomer to the department, she said she is grateful to the theatre department for the opportunities it has presented her so far.
According to the actors, the time spent on the play determining set design, lighting, directing and acting has been exhausting, but Hapeman and Herbert agree it has been completely worth it. With only five weeks to prepare for the play this semester, Herbert said the actors have been putting 15-20 hours a week to prepare.
“I think we’ve made fantastic progress, ” Herbert said. “We were able to get comfortable with the show very quickly. That’s left a lot of time for us to stretch what we can do further than expected.”