‘When She Had Wings’ is a tale of high-altitude imagination

Student cast and crew members rehearse "When She Had Wings" on the partially-constructed set in Pridemore Playhouse.

Students in the Department of Theatre and Cinema are busy at work preparing for the upcoming virtual production of “When She Had Wings.” Penned by playwright Susan Zeder, this fun and inspiring tale follows the imagination of an insecure nine-year-old girl named B who dreams of flying. Audiences will soar through clouds of whimsy and wonder as B lifts off on her adventures.

Senior theatre major Angellise Pacheco is cast in the lead role of B, the nine-year-old girl whose imaginative exploits drive the story. The role is very physical, with lots of falling, jumping and quick movements, the way many high-energy nine-year-olds play. Pacheco says that doing all of those things while wearing a mask has been one of the more challenging aspects of the production.

One of the driving plot elements of “When She Had Wings” is the nine-year-old girl’s disdain for her upcoming birthday, believing that the transition to a double-digit age will mean that she is becoming old. Pacheco says that she was excited to be cast in the role because she felt like she could relate to the character. “I could relate to how B feels about turning ten. I cried when I turned ten,” she laughs. The character is one of the bigger roles that Pacheco has played, and she says that she has learned a lot through the experience. “It is a lot of responsibility. Some of my lines are cues for other characters and actions, so I’ve really had to step up how I prepare for this production.”

Director Travis Sykes (left) oversees a rehearsal session for "When She Had Wings."

The production team decided to use creative movement by dancers to personify B’s rapidly changing moods and experiences. Senior theatre major Travis Sykes is directing the production, and he says he enjoys creating a story that sees the world through a child’s eyes. “There are so many things I love about this play,” he says. “We went through the script and marked every moment where imagination is in play and incorporated dancers to illustrate this through motion.”

Sykes says that preparations to open the play on February 25, 2021, are moving forward well, despite the ongoing pandemic. “We’re still working under a different set of processes from what we’re used to, but we’ve done a number of online performances now, like ‘Almost, Maine’ and ‘The Liddy Plays,’ and I’ve tried to take the things that worked for those and build upon them,” he says.

The theatre program requires a number of safeguards to protect against transmission of the coronavirus. Students are always masked when working together. They are required to turn in a daily symptom tracker before each rehearsal. Props are assigned to specific cast members and cannot be shared. Frequent hand washing is also required when they are working together.

Both Sykes and Pacheco agree that “When She Had Wings” is a story that can be enjoyed by audiences of any age. Younger audience members will be swept away by the imaginative production, while older viewers will have a chance to revisit their childhood again.

“When She Had Wings” opens February 25, 2021 to a virtual audience. Online show dates are February 25 - 26 at 7:00 p.m., February 27 at 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m., and February 28 at 2:00 p.m. The show is appropriate for all ages. Tickets are on sale now at www.rutheatretickets.com

Feb 19, 2021
Jason Hutchens