Being an actress, stepping out on the stage and performing is great fun for Christine Vermilyea. She even relishes the auditioning part of the process.
“Twenty or 30 years ago if I didn’t get a part it would hit me to my soul,” said Vermilyea, who plays the maid, Berthe, in the Classic Theater Guild production of “Boeing-Boeing,” opening tonight at Congregation Beth Israel in Niskayuna and running through Oct. 31. “I would feel sad and get emotional about it. But it gets easier and I realize it’s nothing personal. For whatever reason, I wasn’t the right fit for the role.”
Yes, even auditioning, insists Vermilyea, who grew up in Schenectady and Scotia, is something she looks forward to gleefully.
“I even love going to audition for shows in which I know there are no roles for me,” she said. “There is such a great theater community in this area, and I just love going to watch the other people auditioning. And whenever I can’t be in a show, I love to go watch live theater, or even work backstage doing something. I love stage managing and running lights. I’ll keep doing something as long as they’ll have me.”
“Boeing-Boeing,” Marc Camoletti’s French farce/romantic comedy, was first produced in English in London’s West End in 1962 with David Tomlinson (Mr. Banks in Disney’s “Mary Poppins”) in the lead role. While it ran for only 23 performances on Broadway in 1965, the play enjoyed hugely successful revivals in both London and Broadway in 2007 and 2008, respectfully.
Set in 1960 in a Paris apartment, the story follows the antics of a bachelor named Bernard, who is engaged to three different women, all stewardesses.
Complications start to crop up in Bernard’s precise scheduling plans — due in part to a speedier mode of transportation (the Boeing airplane) — and he is suddenly in the precarious position of having all three women in the city at the same time.
“Berthe is a cranky French woman, and she’s almost a maternal character in the show,” said Vermilyea. “She’s one of the few people who know the extent of what’s going on, and then they don’t seem to know the full story. She’s a bit of a fly on the wall. The play is about complicated relationships that are made even more complicated by the people involved.”
Also in the cast are Benjamin Amey as Bernard and Russell Roberts as Robert, while Isabella Varno (Gloria), Olga Bogdanova (Gabriella) and Rebecca Caroline Flinker (Gretchen) are Bernard’s three love interests. Glenn Read is directing.
“Glenn Read has a great head on his shoulders and he’s great fun to work with,” said Vermilyea. “But while he likes to have fun, it’s not to the extent that we don’t get things done. That’s the real nice part about working with Glenn.”
A graduate of Roger Williams College in Rhode Island, where she acted and directed, Vermilyea says she used to have higher aspirations toward an acting career.
“For a while I did consider trying to do it professionally, but then I realized I really like things like health insurance,” she said, laughing. “So I’m married and I have a job. But I’ll do theater any chance I can. I’ve directed only once in this area, but I really enjoy that, too. I don’t try to limit myself, and being a director once taught me not to take things like rejection too hard. It’s not personal. And when I audition I don’t for a particular part. I’ll do whatever, and I figure the director will know best.”
Vermilyea made her stage debut with the Schenectady Civic Players back in 1987 in “Charley’s Aunt,” and later that same year she was also in a Schenectady Light Opera Company production of “Fiddler on the Roof” at Proctors.
Her resume also includes “Cyrano” with Confetti Stage, “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” with Colonial Little Theatre and “The Madwoman of Chaillot” with SCP. More recently she was in the cast of “Clue” and “Crimes of the Heart,” both with CTG.
Amey, who grew up in central New York, made his area stage debut in March of 2020 in SLOC’s “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.” That production was cut short, however, by the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Vermilyea says the cast and crew have been very conscious of the health concerns brought on by the virus.
“We’re all vaccinated, and during rehearsals we will take our masks off when we’re on stage,” she said. “If we’re backstage we all have them on. We have been following the guidelines.”
Masks will be required along with proof of vaccination for audience members.
WHAT: A production of Mark Camoletti’s play by the Classic Theater Guild
WHERE: Congregation Beth Israel, 2195 Eastern Parkway, Niskayuna
WHEN: Oct. 21-31; shows will begin at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday
HOW MUCH: $20-$18
MORE INFO: Visit www.classictheaterguild.com