Blazers perform at Capital Fringe Festival

Aug. 29, 2013, 4:50 p.m. | By Zoe Johnson | 9 years, 9 months ago

"Fireball XL" garners rave reviews

Blair students presented Lumina Studio Theatre's "Fireball XL", an hour-long comedy, at the Capital Fringe Festival from July 12-27 at the Warehouse Theatre in D.C. Written by Lumina director and playwright David Minton and directed by Ritchie Porter, the show premiered as part of "Invasion of the Surreal Plays," a collection of absurdist one-acts performed by the Lumina Ensemble in April 2013. The show received 4.5 stars from DC Metro Theatre Arts reviewer Justin Schneider.

Maya Davis (Empress Qway-She) speaks to the crew of the Fireball XL. Photo courtesy of Paul Gillis.

The complex plot revolves around a futuristic crew of women soaring through space in search of the Tribe of Lost Boys, a mythical group who may be able to help them save humanity. The show is fast-paced, ridiculous and thoroughly enjoyable to watch. The cast is committed to the silliness, even making the plights of the characters touching at times. "Fireball XL is about a bunch of females exploring space," said Blair '13 graduate Abby Weissman, who played Doctor Mavis Spunt, the spaceship's resident physician. "It's like a Star Trek parody but all with women, and it's hilarious." To promote the show, Weissman's pitch was, "Do you like Star Trek? Do you like women? Then come see the show!"

The original cast members of "Fireball XL" worked on the show for about six months before it opened at the Fringe Festival. According to Weissman, this unusually long rehearsal process allowed the show to evolve greatly. "It's not particularly dense, so once you've figured it out, you've figured it out. The nice thing about working on it [for so long] is that we got to change things and make it better and funnier," Weissman said. However, Weissman said that by the time the show ended, the cast was ready to be done with it. "It's live theatre, so it's living and breathing...and we were living and breathing it for a long time. It did get a little tiresome for me after a while," Weissman said.

Invisible ninjas capture the crew of the Fireball XL. Photo courtesy of Paul Gillis.

When the show was transferred to the Fringe Festival, director Ritchie Porter made some significant changes. "First of all, it cut down a lot," Weissman said. "We cut about a half hour off. There were even characters cut out." Additionally, some original cast members were unable to stay with the show and several Lumina students and alums joined the cast. "When you bring in new people, there's a new energy and it changes things. But it stayed pretty similar to its old message and hijinks," Weissman said. Molly Graham Hickman, a Lumina alum who replaced Blair '13 graduate Emma Bergman, said that despite the pressure of replacing members of a show that was already successful, the new cast members had a great time. "It was awesome. They're such a talented bunch," Hickman said.

Working at the Fringe Festival presented the additional challenge of adhering to the theatre's schedule. "It's crazy at the Fringe because everything's so tightly scheduled. You have 15 minutes to get in and out, and if you run over in the play, the people come and kick you out," Weissman said. Working at the Fringe was "the best thing and the most trying thing," Hickman said. "They run a really tight ship. That's why the Fringe is so successful, but it's hard. It's really stressful."

Clare Lefebure (Captain Priscilla Thorn) and Meg Lebow (Science Officer Scorp) argue.  Photo courtesy of Paul Gillis.

Nevertheless, Weissman and Hickman said that the unique atmosphere of the Fringe Festival made it a positive experience. "Doing a show in the Fringe Festival is really exciting because it makes you feel young and hip, and part of the young and hip DC theatre scene. It's cool to know there are so many cool weird theatre people out there that you can meet and talk to," Weissman said. "There's a very special attitude among Fringe goers," Hickman said. "It's sort of amateur, come and try these shows out...Fringe people are a very special bunch."

In addition to Weissman, the show featured Blair '13 graduates Clare Lefebure (Captain Buck Priscilla 'Prissy' Thorn), Meg Lebow (Science Officer Scorp), Mia Massimio (Arts Enhancement Director Tiffany), Maya Davis (Empress Qway-She, filmed) and Ian Teixeira (Admiral Stella Zodiac, filmed), as well as rising Blair freshman Callie Gompf-Phillips (Bonni the 'Beast' of Pirate Ship Nostradamus, various Ensigns) and junior Isaiah Silvers (Alien Youth, Soldier from Plant RIII, Emissary from Planet Hamlet, various Ensigns).

Tags: Abby Weissman Capital Fringe Festival David Minton Fireball XL Justin Schneider Lumina Studio Theatre Molly Graham Hickman Ritchie Porter

Zoe Johnson. Hey there! I'm Zoe, and my spirit animal is a lioness, which sums up my personality pretty well, actually--though I do try not rip people from limb to limb if I can help it. But hey, we've all got our growth areas, right? I really … More »

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