Stewardess! went through two iterations at Herstory Theatre's annual "Raw Stages" festival, both of which I saw and loved, although the readings were a bit talky and pedantic. Playwright Kira Obolensky has solved that issue, as I had no doubt she would, and managed to get in all the important facts while telling the story in a playful and engaging way. The set-up is that we're all on a flight through history, a sort of fantasy flight that also includes feminist icon Gloria Steinem and Lorraine Wright, who fought a similar fight in the airlines for racial equality. The play begins and ends at an airport with the usual scurry, while our characters all get on the flight and take us along with them. Mary Pat is sometimes addressed by a voice (her conscience? her inspiration?), and scene transitions are often accompanied by this small intrepid cast singing period songs about flying, which adds levity to what could be a heavy story. It's all quite delightful, and incredibly inspiring (especially if you attend with an audience full of current and former flight attendants, as I did, for whom Mary Pat is a hero).
|Tracey Maloney as Mary Pat Laffey (photo by Scott Pakudaitis)
|the ensemble (photo by Scott Pakudaitis)
The base costumes for the cast are all the same - a navy blue airline uniform suit. Characters are differentiated with an accessory change, so we quickly come to recognize who's who. The set features that familiar old Northwest red and white logo, and set pieces look like they came right off an airplane, including vintage blue suitcases sometimes used as stools. The circular floor rotates, as do the raised platforms, creating different spaces for scenes. The whole look is chic and stylish, and so evocative of being on a plane that I almost started to feel nauseous. (Costume design by Amber Brown, scenic design by Joseph Stanley.)
Stewardess! continues through March 3 at the Herstory Theater in downtown St. Paul. Don't miss this flight!