New Jersey Stage
New Jersey Stage on social media


This article is from our magazine. To view it in its original format, click here

Danger In The Sky

By Gary Wien

originally published: 10/19/2015

Danger In The SkyIf the truth is stranger than fiction, perhaps reality is more suspenseful.  That premise is put to the test in the play Charlie Victor Romeo.  Written by Robert Berger, Patrick Daniels, and Irving Gregory, the play opens the 11th season for South Camden Theatre Company in October.  

Charlie Victor Romeo takes actual transcripts from the “black box” cockpit voice recorders of six airplanes which all faced emergency and sometimes fatal situations.  Actors relive these terrifying moments in the sky exactly as they played out in real life.  This fascinating play won a pair of Drama Desk Awards in 2000, including one for Outstanding Unique Theatrical Experience.  South Camden Theatre Company’s production is the regional premiere of this fine work, which is rarely performed.

The cast includes Eric Carter, Kevin Doyle, Jason Cutts, Stacy Skinner, Tyler S. Elliott, Cindy Starcher, and Paul Sollimo.  The production is directed by Joseph M. Paprzycki, the Founding Producing Artistic Director of the company, who saw the play staged in New York in 2003.

“My friend called me and said you have to get up here and see this play,” recalled Paprzycki.  “I saw it in the East Village in a public school basement where they were doing it.  It was jarring theatre and it stayed with me all of this time.  I wondered if I could do that here. I started looking into it and finally found a way to get the rights, which was not easy.  I think they’ve only licensed it one or two times.”

The six different situations take the audience on a roller coaster ride that lures you in with moments that are almost comic, such as pilots flirting with flight attendants.   But with the audience disarmed, the scenes start getting darker.

“You’ve better be ready for a ride because the scenes are terrifying,” said Paprzycki.  “And they’re real.”



The article continues after this ad

 


The reality of the situations is something that truly hits home.  These aren’t imaginary characters whose lives are in danger, these were real people caught in situations that could easily happen to you or me while flying.  We all try to put the dangers out of our minds when we enter our seats, but the dangers are always there.  Paprzycki admits that he has found himself paying closer attention to details while flying ever since he got involved with the play.  A trip to Boston in July was delayed while the crew had a maintenance guy check out a situation with the front tire.  Paprzycki watched what everyone was doing, what they were touching, how they were reacting, and even how they were sitting; all of which gave him insight for the play.  Likewise, historical tv coverage about the incidents proved invaluable for Paprzycki and the cast members to get a better understanding of the gravity of these situations.

“The direction I’ve given to the cast from the minute we started is, ‘This is a play in which you’re going to constantly remember one word as you’re acting - training,’” explained Paprzycki.  “I told them, ‘No matter what your personality is, you’ve been trained.  You’re highly trained professionals and that training has to come through in everything you’re doing.  Even though you might be scared to death, the training has to show.’”

That training comes through when a crew hears a boom during a flight.  The sound tells them something is obviously wrong, but they don’t know if it’s a bomb, a door blowing off, or the loss of an engine.  Incidents in the play range from bulkheads rupturing (causing the loss of the vertical fin and all hydraulics) to a simple piece of tape left over the static ports when the maintenance crew last washed the plane (resulting in the failure of crucial flight instruments to work properly).

During rehearsals, the cast was continuously pushed a little farther and farther into the realities of the situations.  One of the most intense moments of the play deals with United Airlines Flight 232.  At one point, the air traffic controller mentions “there is a four-lane highway you can look at.” Paprzycki asked the actors what that means.  The reply was, “It means you’re going to kill at least 100 innocent people on the ground.”  Paprzycki said, “Yeah, think about just how devastating that is.”  When the actors redid the scene again, their faces showed the realization of being told they could land on a highway that is probably packed with cars and innocent people who will be killed.  Paprzycki told the actors, “When you start hearing these things we have to see the reaction of you the person — through the training — because we know that the audience is thinking, ‘What if my daughter and my three grandchildren are in a car on that highway?’”

“I’m finding all new emotions with this production,” he continued.  “Emotions I haven’t worked with in plays I’ve directed before because this is so different.  The one thing I want to make sure our cast constantly does is keep the people in it.  It’s easy to get pulled aside when they’re fighting the plane or it won’t turn to the left or the right, but I keep hammering home the term they use throughout the play, ‘All the souls on board.’  This is real tragedy here.  These are real lives and real people.  And I don’t want to lose that when telling the story.   I want the audience to walk out the way I did and start thinking about the play an hour or two later and say to themselves, ‘Wait a minute… these were real people.  They weren’t made up from a playwright.’ When you start thinking about all these poor people, it really hits home.”

In a bit of fortuitous casting, the two women both have connections to pilots in real life — something unknown to Paprzycki during the audition process.  One laughed when Paprzycki called her and said she had the role.  She explained her husband is a pilot that flies for FedEx.  Knowing the strong possibility of emotional danger for her, Paprzycki asked her to think it over.  A day later she called him back to say she was on board.

The other woman has a best friend who is a pilot who came to one of the early rehearsals and helped the cast with their questions.  While most plays require actors to learn about their characters — their relationships, backstories, etc. — this play forces actors to learn a new language as well.  Having someone with real world experience proved invaluable to the process.

One of the most fascinating aspects of the play is the use of the last recorded words ever said by some of these people.  You are literally witnessing a reenactment of their final moments.  Writers often think of the power of words, but few ever think of the final words they’ll ever write or say out loud.  Audience members may or may not be thinking about the finality of these words as something momentous on a conscious level, but subconsciously it adds to the power of the play and makes it more of a jarring experience.

“What I can say is that you have never seen live theatre like this as it is both terrifying, true to life, and hopefully it will stay with you for a long time,” said Paprzycki.  “I’ve never done anything like this in South Camden and I wanted to start our second decade with something completely different as Monty Python used to say.”

Charlie Victor Romeo

October 16 - November 1

South Camden Theatre Company

400 Jasper Street, Camden, NJ

Danger In The Sky

 





For more by this author, click here






Center Players Presents "The Emperor's New Duds"
(FREEHOLD, NJ) --  Center Players Dessert Theater will present a family-friendly production of “The Emperor’s New Duds” at Center Playhouse, 35 South St, in downtown Freehold, NJ from December 7 – 16. A musical adaptation of Hans Christian Anderson’s the “Emperor’s New Clothes,” the play was written by Bernice Garfield-Szita, who co-directed the production with Enid Bush.
Centenary Stage’s Young Performers Workshop presents 2018 Winter Festival of Shows
(HACKETTSTOWN, NJ) -- Based on the Gospel According to St. Matthew with music and new lyrics by Stephen Schwartz, Godspell is composed of various musical parables from The Gospel. Jesus Christ recruits a group of followers and teaches them various lessons through song and dance. Toward the end of the second act, the show begins to follow a more linear narrative as Jesus is betrayed by Judas and eventually crucified. Performances are Sunday, December 9 at 5:00pm; Saturday, December 15 at 8pm and Sunday, December 16 at 7:30pm.
The Shakespeare Theatre Presents "The Winter's Tale"
(MADISON, NJ) -- The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey’s concludes its 56th season with its sixth and final Main Stage production, The Winter's Tale. Last seen at The Shakespeare Theatre in 2008, Artistic Director Bonnie J. Monte directs this production of Shakespeare’s tragicomedic romance. Veteran company members Jacqueline Antaramian, Jon Barker, Erin Partin, John Keabler, Raphael Nash Thompson,Seamus Mulcahy, Patrick Toon, and Ames Adamson are among a cast of 20 actors. Performances run from December 5 to December 30. 
American Theater Group Announces Full Cast & Creative For "Tell Them I'm Still Young"
(SOUTH ORANGE, NJ) -- American Theater Group has announced the full cast and creative team for its World Premiere production of Tell Them I’m Still Young, a new play by Julia Doolittle, which will run at the South Orange Performing Arts Center from January 24 - February 3, 2019. Joining the previously announced Andre Braugher (Homicide: Life on the Streets, Men of a Certain Age, Brooklyn Nine-Nine) andMichele Pawk (Hollywood Arms, Hairspray, Mamma Mia) are Janice Amaya (Seen/Unseen) and Seth Clayton (The Madrid).
Holmdel Theatre Company Presents 'ART'
(HOLMDEL, NJ) – The Holmdel Theatre Company (HTC) will present 6 performances of Yasmina Reza’s ‘ART’  from December 7th through December 16th. Translated from French by Christopher Hampton, the play tells the story of what happens when Serge buys an expensive painting, and the reactions of his two closest friends, Marc and Yvan, to his purchase. As what begins as a discussion about the quality of the painting that Serge has purchased quickly devolves into petty jabs and personal attacks, the three men border on destroying their friendships.


Broadway’s Mandy Gonzalez LIVE! at Toms River’s Grunin Center
Broadway is in the house at Toms River, NJ’s Grunin Center for the Arts with a Fearless live concert performance by Broadway star, Mandy Gonzalez!
"The Spitfire Grill" and Caitlin Geisser Return To Their Roots
“I saw something in her that you rarely come across,” recalled Ted Wioncek III, Artistic Director at Eagle Theatre in Hammonton. “She’s more than wise beyond her years; I believe she’s going to be a game-changer and a trendsetter for this art form.”
Broadway’s Next H!T Musical LIVE! at Toms River’s Grunin Center
It’s Friday, October 26, 2018, and the Broadway’s Next H!T Musical cast is just about ready to take the stage at the Jay and Linda Grunin Center for the Arts, located on the campus of Ocean County College in Toms River, NJ.
The Last Apple Pie: "Apples In Winter" Opens At Centenary Stage
Jennifer Fawcett’s new play centers around a mother in a kitchen, doing something countless people across America will take part in over the upcoming holiday season: making an apple pie.
See Andrea McArdle LIVE! in Annie at Deal Park’s Axelrod PAC!
Leapin’ Lizards! Annie’s finally made it to the Axelrod Performing Arts Center in Deal Park, NJ, and it stars Broadway’s original Annie, Andrea McArdle, as Miss Hannigan!










Event calendar
Saturday, Nov 17, 2018


MUSIC

THE GAY BLADES @ The Saint, Asbury Park - 7:30pm

HERMAN'S HERMITS STARRING PETER NOONE & THE BUCKINGHAMS @ Bergen Performing Arts Center (bergenPAC), Englewood - 8:00pm

Nelson Riveros Trio: “The Latin Side of Wes Montgomery” @ Englewood Public Library, Englewood - 7:00pm

Hawaiian Music and Hula @ 1867 Sanctuary at Ewing, Ewing - 8:00pm

Pop 2000 Tour @ iPlay America, Freehold - 7:00pm

THE MACHINE PERFORMS PINK FLOYD @ The Strand Theater, Lakewood - 8:00pm

THE FAB FAUX A HARD DAY'S NIGHT AND REVOLVER IN THEIR ENTIRETIES @ State Theatre New Jersey, New Brunswick - 8:00pm

Todd Barry at SOPAC @ South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC), South Orange - 8:00pm

Swamp Boogie Trio @ Lizzie Rose Music Room, Tuckerton - 7:30pm







THEATRE

Annie @ Broad Street United Methodist Church, Burlington - 8:00pm

An Actor's Carol @ Cape May Stage, Cape May - 3:00pm and 7:30pm

Annie @ Axelrod Performing Arts Center, Deal Park - 2:00pm and 8:00pm

Apples In Winter @ Centenary Stage Company - Kutz Theater of the Lackland Center, Hackettstown - 8:00pm

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat @ The Levoy Theatre, Millville - 8:00pm

Billy Bishop Goes to War @ Bickford Theatre at the Morris Museum, Morristown - 2:00pm

Kiss Me Kate @ Broadway Theatre of Pitman, Pitman - 2:00pm and 8:00pm

Phoenix Productions Presents: The Hunchback of Notre Dame @ Count Basie Center For The Arts, Red Bank - 8:00pm

Enchanted April @ The Summit Playhouse, Summit - 8:00pm

Heathers, The Musical High School Edition @ Pebble Players, Oakes Center, Summit - 7:30pm

Junie B. Jones The Musical at Black Box PAC @ Black Box PAC, Teaneck - 11:00am

Into the Woods @ Studio Playhouse Upper Montclair, Upper Montclair - 8:00pm

The Drowsy Chaperone @ Lauren K. Woods Theatre at Monmouth University, West Long Branch - 8:00pm


COMEDY

Todd Barry at SOPAC @ South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC), South Orange - 8:00pm


DANCE

BALLET FOLKLORICO DE MEXICO @ Mayo Performing Arts Center (MPAC), Morristown - 8:00pm


KIDS

ROALD DAHL’S WILLY WONKA JR. @ Ridgewood Ave School Theater, Glen Ridge - 1:00pm and 7:00pm


LECTURE

Mainebiz Health Care Forum @ Mainebiz Health Care Forum, Newyork - 8:00pm

View all events










 






















For more on our awards, click here








New Jersey Stage © 2018 by Wine Time Media, LLC | PO Box 140, Spring Lake, NJ 07762 (732) 280-7625 | info@newjerseystage.com

Images used on this site have been sent to us from publicists, artists, and PR firms.
If there is a problem with the rights to any image, please contact us and we will look into the matter.