Summer stock is perfect change of pace for actress Herion

Doing summer stock might seem like a lot of hard work to some, but for Melissa Macleod Herion, it’s

Doing summer stock might seem like a lot of hard work to some, but for Melissa Macleod Herion, it’s just about heaven.

“I know that putting up a production in just 10 days and then doing another one when you’re done with the first one sounds crazy to most people,” said Herion, an Oneonta native and New York City-based actress performing in The Theater Barn production of Marc Camoletti’s French farce “Boeing-Boeing,” opening Friday and playing through July 10. “But I love the opportunity to get out of the city, especially during the summer, and to get to see a new town and different places. I love the summer stock lifestyle.”

Herion is spending her third summer in the New Lebanon area with The Theater Barn. In 2009, she played Miss Poppenguhl in “Moonlight & Magnolias” at The Theater Barn and also performed in “Car Talk” at Stageworks/Hudson. Last summer, she doubled up at The Theater Barn, doing Agatha Christie’s “Spider Web” and Arthur Miller’s “All My Sons.”


WHERE: The Theater Barn, 654 Route 20, New Lebanon

WHEN: 8 p.m. Friday; 4 and 8 p.m. Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday; 8 p.m. July 7; 4 and 8 p.m. July 8-9; 2 p.m. July 10

HOW MUCH: $24-$22

MORE INFO: 794-8989,

Like many professional actors who work at their day job so that they can pursue their acting dream, Herion views her summer stock experience almost like vacation time.

“When you do summer stock, you’re immersed in what you love,” said Herion, who works part-time on Wall Street. “You don’t have to worry about your survival job, so to me it’s like utopia.”

In “Boeing-Boeing,” Herion plays Gretchen, a German stewardess. She is one of three stewardesses being juggled by an American architect named Bernard residing in Paris. Bernard has managed to convince each of the women that they are the “only one” in his life. But when a friend, Robert, arrives unexpectedly, trouble ensues. Bernard is played by Matthew Daly and Robert by Dominick Varney. Vanessa Dunleavy plays Gloria, the American stewardess; Kathleen Boddington plays Gabriella, the Italian stewardess; and Meg Dooley is Bertha, Bernard’s long-suffering housekeeper. Phil Rice is directing.

Popular production

The play received its first English production in 1962 at London’s Apollo Theatre, and in 1991 it was listed as the most performed French play in the world. The movie version, with Jerry Lewis, Tony Curtis and Thelma Ritter, was made in 1965, and in 2008 a production on Broadway won the Tony Award for Best Revival.

“I saw it on Broadway and I loved it,” said Herion. “I had read all the reviews and knew a bunch of people who had seen it. It was the show that could do no wrong. All the talk about it was positive, and when I finally saw it myself I thought it was just delightful.

“What I loved was the heightened physicality of it,” added Herion. “These guys are in a mess of a situation, and while it’s a farce and might not be that realistic, it is hilarious. There are all kinds of literal ways to interpret the dialogue, and that really brings out the physicality.”

Unlike Herion, Rice has never seen a stage production of “Boeing-Boeing,” but he does have a faint recollection of the movie.

“I saw it quite a few years ago, and the movie is somewhat different from the play,” said Rice, a Delmar resident and former Shaker High School teacher. “It’s a real classic farce, with the usual kind of setups, misunderstandings and missed opportunities. It’s chaos, but it’s very tightly written. I like the fact that there’s four very distinct and strong women’s roles.”

Although Rice was vacationing in Florida when Theater Barn owner Joan Phelps went to New York City to cast the show, he was still very much a part of the process.

“We got very high-tech and set up a Skype conference call, so I saw all the auditions and all they saw of me was this big face on a screen,” said Rice. “But it was as if I was there, and I had worked with Melissa before on ‘Moon & Magnolias.’ She’s talented and I knew what she could do. All of these people are very good comic actors.”

Finding career path

Herion has been acting since she was 8. She grew up in Oneonta and was involved in a lot of musical theater there before heading south to the University of North Carolina, where she majored in drama and sociology.

“I got my first professional job acting when I was 10, but it’s not like I made a conscious decision at some point that I wanted to be an actor,” she said. “But it was always with me. When I was looking at colleges, all my friends said, ‘Oh, you’re going to major in theater, right?’ and I was kind of offended. I knew I was smart and that I could do other things. I ended up going to North Carolina because I wanted to get away and visit different parts of the country, and I thought North Carolina, which has such a strong academic program, would be a good place to figure out what I wanted to do.”

Since she graduated from North Carolina, Herion has found herself gravitating toward straight plays as opposed to musicals.

“I love to sing and dance, but I tell you, since I’ve been in New York I’ve met so many fantastic singers and dancers, I’m not sure I’d be that competitive in those areas,” said Herion. “I’m very happy doing straight plays.”

Herion will also be performing in The Theater Barn production of Agathie Christie’s “The Hollow,” July 14-24.

Categories: Life and Arts

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