For three years now, Damon Bonetti, actor, director, and co-founder of the Philadelphia Artists’ Collective, has loved coming out to Hedgerow in June for its beauty, its actors, and to help create and continue its ridiculous tradition, “The Summer Farce.” He helmed the critically acclaimed The 39 Steps in 2014 and No Sex Please, We’re British in 2015. This year, he’s in Rose Valley once more to guide the production of Marc Camoletti’s Boeing Boeing, which runs from July 7 to August 21.
“It’s the summer time, the weather is beautiful, and people want to come to the theatre and have a good time,” Bonetti observed. “They want to go to a party, and a farce is absolutely a party. Hedgerow is a beautiful place to come and perform, and an even better place to experience a show, and I love coming out here to bring the audience a great experience.”
As any farce should, Boeing Boeing features unwitting characters dealing with improbable situations that escalate to ridiculous levels, with lots of double entendres, physical comedy and general hilarity along the way. It takes place in the 1960s in the Paris apartment of American businessman Bernard, a playboy who is “engaged” to three gorgeous airline hostesses: Gloria, an American, works for TWA; Gabriella, an Italian, is with Air Italia; and Gretchen, a German, flies with Lufthansa. By keeping meticulous track of their different schedules, he’s able to juggle their arrivals and departures so none of them learn about the others, with the help of his grumpy, long-suffering maid Berthe. During a visit from an old college friend, Robert, from Wisconsin, Bernard’s perfect flight plan is thrown off course into severe turbulence when weather delays and changes in timetables bring all three women to Paris at the same time.
After graduating with a BA in theatre from Allentown College (now DeSales University), the South Philadelphia native worked with a touring company in Boston. While there, he went to see Stephen Wadsworth’s translation and adaptation of Pierre de Marivaux’s The Game of Love and Chance at the Huntington Theatre in 1997 and met Jared Reed, Hedgerow’s current Producing Artistic Director, who was playing Harlequino. Although it wasn’t a result of that meeting, Bonetti came to Hedgerow the next year after earning his MFA in acting at Florida State University, to appear in Marat Sade. He returned in 2010 to play Ross Gardiner in Visiting Mr. Green. He met Reed again in Philadelphia a few years later, and was offered the opportunity to direct The 39 Steps, after having just performed in that play as Richard Hanney at Theatre Horizon.
Bonetti equally enjoys acting and directing, although he finds them very different. “As an actor my main concern is the role,” he reflected. ““My job as a director is to make sure the story gets told.” Explaining that comedy is very “precise and mathemetical,” he added that “there’s a reason comedy comes in threes and fives. The math and timing of farce is essential, and it is my job to make sure we are hitting all the jokes, and discovering all the physical bits, and then to let the actors do their work.”
Asked why the genre remains so popular, he answered,“People love farces because they are funny, because they are stupid, because they are dumb and they get to see people doing ridiculous things, and the audience gets to be glad that it is not them up there. Farce is it is controlled chaos. It helps if the play is good, and this play is very good…and it helps to have funny people in the play, who are also good actors. Directing is 90 percent casting, and I am so lucky to have this cast. Everyone brings their A game, every rehearsal and every show.”
Adult ticket prices for Friday, Saturday evening and Sunday shows are $34; Saturday twilight shows are $29. There is a $3 discount for seniors. Tickets for those 30 and under and students are $20. Tickets for the previews on July 7 and 8 are $20. For groups of 10 or more, tickets are $18. Prices include all fees and are subject to change.
For reservations or more info, call 610-565-4211 or visit www.HedgerowTheatre.org. Hedgerow Theatre is located at 64 Rose Valley Road in Rose Valley (near Media).