Students phone back to ’50s in ‘Bells Are Ringing’ 

click to enlarge Yosephina Peters, second from bottom, is among the youngsters appearing in San Francisco Arts Education Players’ production of “Bells Are Ringing.” - COURTESY PHOTO
  • Courtesy Photo
  • Yosephina Peters, second from bottom, is among the youngsters appearing in San Francisco Arts Education Players’ production of “Bells Are Ringing.”

Yosephina Peters is ready for her moment in the spotlight.

This weekend, the 12-year-old is appearing in “Bells Are Ringing” presented by the San Francisco Arts Education Players. It’s her third appearance with the youth musical theater troupe, whose members come from 24 Bay Area schools.

A musical fan — she’s familiar with classics such as “Guys and Dolls,” “Singin’ in the Rain,” “Carousel” and “Oklahoma!” — Yosephina admittedly had to do a little research about the 1950s when preparing for her role as Gwynne, who works at the switchboard of a telephone answering service and is friends with Ella, the show’s lead.

“I didn’t know they had so much technology. It’s very, very cool,” she says, seeming thrilled, rather than daunted, by Jule Styne, Betty Comden and Adoph Green’s 1956 show about a phone operator that some might call dated.

“I love it! It’s very comedic, there are lots of funny scenes,” she says, mentioning a couple of songs: “Is It a Crime,” in which Ella has an emotional exchange with a cop on the street, and “Hello Hello There,” when Ella and her love interest Jeff go into the subway and say hi to everyone.

In the song called “Drop That Name,” she didn’t know some folks mentioned in the lyrics, such as Anna May Wong or Barry Gray — but she did know Doris Day, Frank Sinatra and Gene Kelly.

Someday, the Oakland School for the Arts student (who lives across the street from the Fox Theater) would like to make it to Broadway. Annie Oakley in “Annie Get Your Gun” would be one of her dream roles.

But for now, having already performed with the Arts Players in the Western musical “Destry Rides Again” and a revue of Cole Porter songs, Yosephina doesn’t mind not having the biggest part.

Calling “Bells Are Ringing” a show in which the numbers are equally divided between the leads and the ensemble, including duets and solos, she says, “Being a demi-lead, I get as much time with the teacher. And everyone gets a fair share.”

lkatz@sfexaminer.com

Bells Are Ringing

Presented by the San Francisco Arts Education Players

  • Where: Eureka Theatre, 215 Jackson St., S.F.
  • When: 2 p.m. Saturdays-Sundays, 7 p.m. Feb. 22 and March 1, 1 p.m. March 3
  • Tickets: $15 to $22
  • Contact: (415) 392-4400, www.cityboxoffice.com
  • Note: The March 3 closing show includes a benefit reception; tickets are $20 to $40.

About The Author

Leslie Katz

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