Story by Anna Schlutt, Reporter
Photos courtesy of Bryanna Lee
AQ’s recent production of “Vrooommm!” brought students racing to the Theater Annex during its extended run. Directed by Linnae Caurdy, this show brought feminism into a new light through the hard work of six talented actresses and a well-practiced backstage team. Though “Vrooommm!” was considered an “extra” show and not a main focus of Aquinas’s theater department, the play was nonetheless well-orchestrated and well-developed.
The basic concept of “Vrooommm!,” which separates it from most other plays on the market, is its casting. Every role, including males’, is played by a woman. These roles range from the feminine, slightly provocative Holly “Legs” Nelson (played by Danata Paulino) to the endlessly macho Kenny “Hotshot” Kane (played by Justina Ouellette). Throughout the show, male Nascar drivers continue to taunt “Legs” Nelson with comments about sex and the “men’s sport” of racing, but she outstrips them both on the track and off using practiced skills, breakneck reflexes, and purest intelligence.
As “Vrooommm!” begins, we see a lineup of actresses in a variety of baseball caps, ponytails, fake moustaches, and baggy clothing, fists tightly clenched around the steering wheels of the nimble racing cars they’re imagining. The group is seated. They turn in their chairs, facing to the right, facing away, facing left, and back again, as they pretend to take tight turns on the track. The announcers Randy and Richard (Bryanna Lee and Fatima Bawah) exchange a feverish commentary as “Legs” rounds the final turn and outstrips the last of her competition. Off of the track, male competitors argue about what method of cheating she used to overcome the odds, noting that a woman can’t beat a man at NASCAR.
This show moved through a complex series of plots, punctuated by visits from the official Colonel Clucker’s Chicken mascot, amusing engine inspections overseen by a foreign scientist (Megan Lareau), and, of course, a whole lot of drunk karaoke. Though the plot was sometimes difficult to follow, this was clearly due more to the complex nature of the play rather than its performance or writing. “Vrooommm!” is certainly full to bursting with ideas about feminism, NASCAR, equality, and humor. Humor in particular was well-established in the show. Despite the plot’s complexity, nearly every line of the play contained some undertone of comedy. This was not missed by the audience, which was rolling with laughter during every scene, from Chip Chowalsky’s (Bryanna Lee) karaoke stint about Richard Petty’s love life, to Noel Ramos’s brief turn as a naked fan, to Megan Lareau’s hilarious interpretation of a German accent.
Though “Vrooommm!” makes for excellent humor, it also makes some excellent points about feminism, about women in sports, and about human nature. Linnae Caurdy has done a fabulous job with the show, after being caught unaware by the offer to direct it. As she puts it, she is “surrounded by brilliantly talented women,” which makes her task much simpler. Nonetheless, the group has done well both for themselves and for Aquinas College, and I cannot wait to see what these incredible women do during their time both at school and in the wider world.