By Ashley Davis
Opening at 7:30 p.m. tonight in the Mabee Theater of the Hooper-Schaefer Fine Arts Center, “Born Yesterday” will be the theatre department’s first production of the spring.
Directed by Jessi Hampton, a master’s candidate in directing, this ’50s romance tells the story of a rough-around-the-edges young woman whose wealthy lover hires a tutor to teach her etiquette and manners. However, sparks fly when the main character, Billie Dawn, begins to fall in love with her tutor as she realizes her lover is not as charming and honest as he seems.
The play stars Henderson senior Katie Amis, who plays Billie Dawn, Coppell senior Zach Zoda as Paul Verrall, the tutor, and Houston senior Jimi Wallace as Harry Brock. The play will run all week.
Hampton said the play is full of intellectual humor and is a story that society is very familiar with.
“The story emphasizes understanding of self-worth and knowing who you are,” Hampton said.
She said she chose this play as her thesis production because she loved the characters and the witty humor involved in such a timeless classic.
Hampton said the most difficult part of production so far has been pinpointing the characterization of each role in rehearsals.
“Each character has more levels than the actors initially think,” Hampton said. “And then there is the staging of the theater. That’s always hectic.” Hampton said they really work to access the depth of each character in rehearsals.
Hampton said the message the audience should take from this play is the recurring themes of worth and the importance of education.
Amis said it is a blessing to play the role of Billie Dawn.
“At first I was nervous that I would just be playing a female stereotype, but as I rehearsed more, I realized that she is a strong woman,” she said.
Amis said the play is female-empowering and promotes strength in women contrary to the typical female roles attributed to the ’40s and ’50s in American screenwriting and film. Amis emphasized the fact that, while Bille Dawn is a simple character, she is very straightforward and stands up for herself in the end.
Amis said she enjoys the dynamic she has with her co-stars as well.
“As actors, we’re friends,” Amis said. “We’ve known each other for a long time and it’s been a blast. Rehearsals are very easy-going.”
However, there have been some hurdles to overcome in producing the final product. Amis said the hardest problem is always memorization and that the surest way to defeat it is repetition. “The play requires a Brooklyn/New York accent as well,” Amis said. “That’s been challenging but fun to learn.”
Tickets, which are $18, can be bought online at www.baylor.edu/theatre or at the box office located in the front entrance of the Hooper-Schaefer Fine Arts Center. The play will run from today to Sunday this week.
Though four of the six dates are already sold out, standing room-only tickets can be bought for $15 one hour before the performance.