Bringing back the spirit of the ’60s: ‘Boeing Boeing’ playing Church in the Middle of the Block this month

Mirror photo by Gary M. Baranec / From left, Amanda Mascitelli, Caleb Wolfe, Emily Evey and Zack Scholl rehearse a scene from “Boeing Boeing.”

Things Unseen Theatre fans will be in for a treat with a change of pace this summer with a “physical comedy” that promises to make audience members laugh, according to the theater’s co-artistic director Valerie Stratton.

“Boeing Boeing” is scheduled to hit the stage at the Church in the Middle of the Block Cultural Center for a five-show run beginning Aug. 18.

Stratton said the play, by Marc Camoletti, is set in the 1960s and focuses on an American playboy, Bernard, who is engaged simultaneously to three lovely flight attendants — an Italian, a German and an American — who have frequent layovers in Paris. He keeps “one up, one down and one pending” until unexpected schedule changes bring all three to his apartment at the same time, she wrote in a press release.

“What ensues is classic physical comedy as he attempts to keep each from knowing about the others,” according to Stratton.

The setting is Bernard’s Paris apartment and uses seven doors and entrances, which is a challenge for the Church’s smaller stage. But the players think they’ll pull it off.

“The doors are important to the production,” said Alice Oswald, who is co-directing with Matt Michrina, both in their directorial debuts. “It is a bit of a challenge getting the perfect timing, because often one person exits at the exact moment another enters. We have a very talented team working on this show, and no challenge has been too big yet, so I am positive the moments will all work as planned.

“These characters never stop moving,” Oswald said. “The lines themselves are hilarious, but each joke is made better by the actions and facial expression our fantastic cast puts with them.”

You can’t teach comedy, said Michrina, adding, “We were lucky enough to cast six of the funniest people we know in the show.”

“From the very first time we read through the script, they’ve been making us laugh in every rehearsal, and we can’t wait to share this wonderful show with the community,” he said.

Caleb Wolfe plays Bernard, and Zack Scholl plays his visiting friend who tries to keep up the farce. The cast is rounded out by Bonnie Gordon, Rachel Lingenfelter, Amanda Mascitelli and Emily Evey.

Scholl said he hadn’t dabbled in theater since graduating in 2009 from Altoona Area High School, where he was active in musicals. He describes his character, Robert, as a “country whooper for a Wisconsinite who has the thick accent.”

“It’s really fun to do. It’s a really funny script,” Scholl added.

Scholl wasn’t the only one to have to take on an accent.

“I think the actors will agree that a challenge to ‘Boeing Boeing’ specifically are the accents they’ve had to learn,” said Michrina. “There are characters from New York, France, Italy and Germany, and we’ve done our best to accurately represent the accents, pronunciations and cultures involved. … They’ve put a lot of time into bringing their characters to life, which has been fantastic to witness.”

Evey plays the passionate German, which is unusual because the Germans “don’t have an expressive language,” she said. “So it’s an interesting dynamic.” She also will throw out a few German phrases, she said.

Oswald credited Evey with bringing the script to the directors’ attention.

Evey said she first saw it played by high school students she was teaching at an Educational Theatre Association conference last year in York. Her first community theater show was in the Altoona Community Theatre’s production of “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance” last year, which also featured Wolfe.

Oswald’s credits include a number of lighting designs and acting in “The 39 Steps” at ACT and “Sky Girls” at Things Unseen. Michrina, a member of ACT’s board, worked backstage for both of those shows, as well as others, and several cameo roles on stage.

Michrina said there are a few crude jokes in “Boeing Boeing,” “but nothing too controversial.”

“It’s good for those 13 years of age and up, but parents should use their judgment,” he said.

He added that the play is based on the 1965 movie of the same name that starred Tony Curtis and Jerry Lewis.

“There are slight differences between the movie and the play, but the basic story is similar and we’ve intentionally incorporated physical elements of the movie into our production of the play,” he said. “We’ve aimed to transport the audience back to the mid-’60s, when the show takes place.”

Mirror Staff Writer Cherie Hicks is at 949-7030.

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If you go

What: Things Unseen Theatre’s production of Marc Camoletti’s “Boeing Boeing”

When: 8 p.m. Aug. 18, 19, 25 and 26 and 2 p.m. Aug. 20.

Where: Church in the Middle of the Block, 217 Fifth Ave., Altoona

Admission/tickets: $12 for general admission, $10 for students and seniors, available at the door or in advance at Thompson Pharmacies

More info: www.ThingsUnseenTheatre.org

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