‘Call Me Elizabeth’ Will Come to Life at Playhouse

Kayla Boye’s one-woman play “Call Me Elizabeth” earned glowing reviews after premiering this month at the Hollywood Fringe Festival in Los Angeles.

The Howland native, who wrote and stars in the show about the late Elizabeth Taylor, had been waiting for over a year to perform it before an audience. She offered a filmed version of it online early last year under the auspices of The Youngstown Playhouse and other theaters.

Transferring the show to the stage made it feel like a premiere, even though many people had already seen it on their screens, said Boye.

“The main challenge is the performance aspect,” said the Youngstown State University graduate who is now based in Chicago. “It’s knowing the pacing, knowing if an audience is with you, knowing projection levels and vocal energy and when to hold for laughter… I never had the chance to feel how humans will respond to it in the moment.”

Boye will bring her show to the Youngstown Playhouse’s Moyer Room for a 7:30 p.m. performance on Saturday, June 25, and a 2:30 p.m. matinee June 26.

She performed it multiple times at the Fringe Festival between June 7 and 12. Critics were impressed.

“In a sensitive and finely-acted performance, Kayla Boye captures the instantly recognizable voice and mannerisms of Elizabeth Taylor and wins her audience’s hearts,” wrote theater critic Isabella Briers.

Boye portrays the Hollywood icon at age 29, the height of her career, in “Call Me Elizabeth.” The action unfolds in the movie star’s apartment, where Taylor entertains her biographer, who has paid a visit. The audience watches in fly-on-a-wall fashion as Taylor reveals her true self with the cameras not rolling. The year is 1961.

After the Youngstown run, Boye will present her show at a theater in Chicago. She hopes to book more performances  thereafter, pointing out that the show is made to travel. A period couch, phone and herself are all that is required.

John Cox, president of the Youngstown Playhouse, said he was stunned by the filmed version of the show and was eager to bring in the live performance.

“It’s freakishly impressive for someone of her age to write, produce and star in something like that and for her portrayal to be as solid as it is,” Cox said.

“We worked hard to bring it back here,” he continued. “I’m not just excited for Kayla. I’m excited for the public.”

Cox said great acting and writing become even more critical in a one-person show. “She nailed both,” he said. “She physically inhabits [Taylor] in her mannerisms and vocal inflections. The technical aspect is fascinating. She is impressive.”

Since the initial release of the filmed version, Boye has tweaked the script “to maximize dramatic impact and find clarifying moments,” she said. “We also focused on exploring moments of self-discovery. She’s not just telling the story, but what she needs to do next in her life.”

The play is directed by Erin Kraft of Chicago, who also directed the filmed version.

Boye has long had a fascination with Taylor and extensively researched her life before writing the script.

“There is so much in her aura,” she said. “She was one of the first people whose life off-camera was bigger than any movie she was in.”

To portray Taylor as authentically as possible, Boye incorporates her speech patterns and movements into every moment. “[Taylor] likes to search her mind for the right word, and then pull it out of the air,” she said.

Sometimes, the actor has to remind herself to step out of character.

“I recently met with a director for a table read of a [different] script and I had to stop myself,” she recalled. “I said, ‘I am so sorry, I was speaking in my Liz voice.’”

Tickets for “Call Me Elizabeth” are $20 and can be purchased in advance by calling 330 788 8739 or by clicking:

https://www.youngstownplayhouse.org/call-me-elizabeth

Pictured at top: Kayla Boye portrays Elizabeth Taylor in “Call Me Elizabeth.”

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.