Navigating the friendly skies a challenge in 'Boeing Boeing'
Three young women who “fly the friendly skies” as 1960s air hostesses — better known today as flight attendants — find it's a lot friendlier on the ground until they realize they're all sharing the same fiancé in “Boeing Boeing,” a classic farce opening Sept. 14 at Apple Hill Playhouse.
Written by French playwright Marc Camoletti, the play deals with the antics of Bernard (portrayed by Justin Mohr of Astoria, N.Y.), for whom life is good ... temporarily.
The bachelor lives in a Paris flat and has been able to plan his meetings with three beautiful stewardesses so they never find out about each other, until Bernard's friend Robert (Chris Pastrick of New Kensington) shows up and a new and speedier Boeing jet wreaks havoc with his impeccable timing. The ladies' schedules collide and Bernard is in big trouble.
Robert is an old school friend who's not quite as sophisticated as Bernard.
“He's not a complete nerd, but more simple minded and innocent,” Pastrick says. “So when he's thrown into this wonderful world of rotating women, he's awestruck about the whole concept. He's fascinated by it all.”
Pastrick played the same character in a 2014 production of “Boeing Boeing” for New Kensington Civic Theatre.
“As an actor, I get such a kick out of playing comedy,” he says. “The timing, the physicality, the immediate feedback, it's all so much fun. This show is a comic actor's dream, there's so much material to work with.”
Portraying the three air hostesses are Sarah McKee of Murrysville as Gloria from Georgia; Ashley Harmon of Monroeville as Gabriella from Italy, and Pam Farneth of New Kensington as Gretchen from Germany.
“My character is a super fun, boy crazy, spoiled socialite from Savannah, who is an air hostess just for fun and to find a husband,” says McKee. “She is an absolute blast to play, and has such a unique outlook on life that is fun to explore.”
For Harmon, mastering an Italian accent for her role has been one of the biggest challenges she's faced in a performance.
“I have been working extremely hard on this facet of the character; and it's become about more than just the accent. It's about her mannerisms and physicality that combine with the accent to make her believable to the audience as a strong Italian woman,” she says. “I am indebted to the other women in the production, as well as other actresses and friends who have helped me with the Italian pronunciations and language training.”
Farneth is finding “Gretchen the German” as “definitely larger than life and extremely tempestuous and passionate, yet the most sensitive of the three air hostesses.
“She definitely is the loudest and the biggest,” she says. “I love having to deliver these lines in the German accent. Quite honestly, that is what makes her so funny. It's probably one of my favorite comedic roles and I have played a lot.”
Ron Ferrara of Vandergrift is directing “Boeing Boeing” at Apple Hill; he also directed a production of the show for New Kensington Civic Theatre.
Also in the cast is Shelly Spataro of New Kensington. Sue Shirey of Pittsburgh is stage manager.
Candy Williams is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.