June 9, 2014
Saint Vincent Summer Theatre continues its 46th season of professional theatre with a dizzying farce, Boeing Boeing by Marc Camoletti, translated by Beverley Cross and Francis Evans, opening on June 19, directed by veteran director Colleen Reilly Rossmiller.
The preview performance is scheduled at 8:10 p.m. Thursday, June 19. Regular performances are set for 8:10 p.m. June 20, 21, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, July 1, 2, 3 and 5. Matinees are scheduled at 2:10 p.m. Wednesday, June 25 and Sunday, June 29.
“I’m very excited to be doing Boeing Boeing,” Rossmiller commented. “It’s one of the great farces. It premiered in the early 1960s and then sort of fell into obscurity, I’m not really sure why. It’s one of those good plays that somehow just didn’t get done that much. Then a few years ago it had a revival in London and then on Broadway. It was a huge hit with audiences and won awards and that’s when I first became aware of it. And when I read it, I was laughing out loud. I knew that as soon as the rights for it became available, I wanted to do this at Saint Vincent.”
“It’s wonderful summer entertainment,” she continued. “We always like to do at least one, sometimes two farces. That type of comedy, that type of pure just-out-to-make-you-laugh comedy, I think is perfect for the dog days of summer.”
“First thing you should know about Boeing Boeing is that it is very, very funny,” Rossmiller repeated. “Like many farces it has kind of a ridiculous premise but a funny, clever one. It is set in 1961, the fairly early glamorous days of international airline travel. Nowadays we kind of think of airline travel as something a little bit stressful and difficult, but these were the days of glamorous flights, comfortable airplanes and beautiful stewardesses in snazzy uniforms. It was a very, very glamorous way to travel and this play takes this new and exciting mode of transportation as its jumping off point because one of our two heroes, Bernard, has figured out a unique way to take advantage of airline travel. He has figured out that by dating stewardesses he can juggle multiple women at the same time. He actually has three women who are each under the impression that they are his fiancée. And he does this by dating three stewardesses from three different airlines, all of whom have schedules that keep them from ever being on the ground in Paris where Bernard lives at the same time. So if he just knows their timetables, if he just keeps their schedules straight, he can juggle these women with no problem. He thinks he has a foolproof system. But, this being a farce and no system really being foolproof, this play takes place on the day when everything goes wrong, from technical failures to weather problems over the North Atlantic, all kinds of airline difficulties combine to cause all three of Bernard’s so-called fiancées to return to Paris simultaneously. And of course they all head for Bernard’s apartment with predictably comic results.”
“This play also takes place on the day on which an old friend of Bernard’s from his school days back in America chooses to visit,” Rossmiller explained. “This friend is a really, really charming character. He’s naïve, he’s gentle, he doesn’t have much experience with women unlike Bernard, he’s not a Lothario himself. But it’s his first trip to Europe and he is just dazzled by Paris and he’s dazzled by Bernard’s brilliant system for managing all of these women, although he’s a little dubious that it’s as perfect as Bernard thinks. But then after all of these women return to the flat, Bernard and his friend, Robert, have to do their best to keep them from figuring out that the others are present and who they in fact are. The result is just a delightful madcap farce full of mistaken identities, near misses, confused conversations, all the classic elements of a great farce.”
“I think this show is going to be a real crowd pleaser,” Rossmiller predicted.
“I’m really looking forward to working with this cast,” she added. “Michael Fuller is playing the role of Bernard and I think it’s just perfect for him. Michael is a brilliant comic actor, a very handsome man and he has a real gift for making the craziest of situations seem very human and believable. He’s been appearing at our theatre for over a decade now, most recently in last summer’s Too Many Cooks in a memorable turn as the Mountie who accidentally gets drunk, but he has been in many, many plays for us and is always a delight to work with and to watch perform.”
“Playing the role of his friend, Robert, is Kevin Daniel O’Leary, another favorite of our audiences here at Saint Vincent. Kevin is a wonderful performer, engagingly funny, inventive and I think he’s going to be absolutely perfect in the role of the naïve friend who finds himself doing all kinds of crazy things he never imagined he’d be doing when he woke up that morning.”
“Playing the three fiancées we have three wonderful actresses, one of whom has worked for the Summer Theatre before. Abby Quatro was also seen in last summer’s Too Many Cooks, where she played the daughter of the restaurant owner, most memorably with a bowl of fruit on her head pretending to be a Spanish dancer. Abby is a very funny actress, very bold, very daring, and we’re looking forward to her playing the role of the Italian fiancée, Gabriella. The two other fiancées are new to our stage, Jenny Malarkey I have never worked with before but her audition was absolutely wonderful and I’m really looking forward to working with her for the first time. Daina Michelle Grififth is new to our theatre but not new to Pittsburgh area audiences since she has worked at most of the major theaters in Pittsburgh. Just this last year she was chosen by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette as their Performer of the Year, a very nice honor for any Pittsburgh actor. She is a very talented performer and a delightful person. I’m really looking forward to my first chance to work with her. I think it’s going to be a lot of fun.”
“And, finally, playing the role of Bertha, Bernard’s long-suffering French maid is my mother Patricia Reilly, of course no stranger to Saint Vincent’s stage since its founding in 1969. She is my mother so I am of course slightly prejudiced but she is a wonderful actor, she has a really wonderful sense of comic timing and as her daughter I know that she can definitely let you know when she’s displeased with your behavior as she does with Bernard. So I think mom will bring a wonderful sensibility to Bertha, the maid who knows everything that’s going on and is just doing her best to make sure that her life doesn’t explode.”
“All in all, it is a rollicking good time,” she concluded. “It’s just a delightful, fantastic farce in the classical French farce mold and I think audiences will love it. If you want an evening of belly laughs I think Boeing Boeing will fit the bill.”
Saint Vincent Summer Theatre patrons are asked to make ticket reservations in advance because seats are reserved at all performances except Thursday evening preview shows, which are general admission. Reservations may be made by calling the theater box office at 724-537-8900. Theatre patrons may also make reservations online by going to www.svst.org. A credit card is required for on-line reservations, and such reservations are transferable, but non-refundable.
Individual tickets are $10 for preview performances, $19 on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday evenings, $22 on Friday and Saturday evenings and $16 for matinees. Special theatre party group rates apply to groups of 20 guests or more. Senior citizens, 62 or older, are eligible for a $2 discount upon request on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings only. Special subscription plans are also available. Four-show and three-show subscription plans are again being offered this season. In addition, student tickets are available for $10 for any seat, any performance.
Saint Vincent Summer Theatre performances are all scheduled in the comfortable, air-conditioned Performing Arts Center of the Robert S. Carey Student Center on the Saint Vincent College campus. Free van shuttle service will continue to be provided to and from the spacious and convenient parking areas adjacent to the Saint Vincent Basilica.
Saint Vincent Summer Theatre will continue to feature its well-known Cabaret, the special after-the-show party to which all theatre patrons are invited. Saint Vincent students serve snacks, hot dogs and beverages after the production and also provide entertainment. The cabaret is open after all performances except Thursday preview shows and all matinees. Theatre officials encourage donations if patrons enjoy themselves at the after-the-show party.
Upcoming productions include Jeeves in Bloom July 10 to 26 and A Grand Night for Singing July 31 to Aug. 17.
The 25th annual Saint Vincent Summer Theatre Gala will be held Friday, July 11. All proceeds benefit the Saint Vincent Summer Theatre. To receive an invitation or further details, phone 724-805-2901.
A free brochure is available by contacting the Saint Vincent Theatre box office at 724 537-8900.
Photos: Michael Fuller, Daina Michelle Griffith, Jenny Malarkey, Kevin Daniel O’Leary, Abby Quatro and Patricia Reilly.
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