Here’s the first in a series of interviews with the cast of No Rules Theatre Company’s upcoming production of Boeing Boeing. Today meet Helen Hedman.
Joel: Where have local theatregoers seen you recently on the stage?
Helen: Most recently I was in the world premiere of the musical Beaches, directed by Eric Schaeffer at Signature. I’ve been lucky enough to work at several theatres, both in this area and elsewhere. Some favorites include Piaf at Olney Theatre, The Women at Arena Stage, Sabrina Fair and A Christmas Carol at Ford’s, the title role in A Woman of No Importance at the Shakespeare Theatre and The Glass Menagarie at the Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma.
How did you get involved with Boeing Boeing at No Rules?
I was blown away by Joshua’s performance in The Chosen at Arena Stage and I remember talking to him afterwards and hearing about No Rules. Since then we’ve been on each other’s radar, as they say, so I was really glad that I was free to do the craziness that is Boeing Boeing.
Who do you play in Boeing Boeing, and how do you relate to her?
I play Berthe, the put-upon (aren’t they always?), resourceful (always) housekeeper. She’s also a bit of an existentialist. Well, she IS French!
Have you appeared in any other productions of Boeing Boeing?
I’ve never done this particular play before, but I did do another play by the author, Marc Camoletti, Don’t Dress for Dinner, a long time ago in a galaxy far away.
What’s your favorite line and scene in the play?
Well, I wouldn’t want to give away anything really good, and most of comedy comes straight out of the situation, but there’s one thing that cracks me up every time. Imagine pandemonium happening all over the place. In the middle of that, the German stewardess pops out of the bathroom and says “I can’t find my loofah!” Come and see it for the full effect!
What have been some of the challenges you have faced preparing for your role, and how has Director Matt Cowart helped you meet these challenges and helped you shape your performance?
The challenge as rehearsals progress will be to get all the basic stuff down (entrances, the many props, who is behind what door, etc.) so I can find out more about my relationship with my boss, with his three ladies and with his visiting friend, and also what makes this particular day the day I’m going to throw in the towel. What’s my job in telling this story? Matt Cowart knows his comedy, let me tell you! He starts by giving us free rein to create in a scene, which is wonderful. Then next time around he’ll add some ideas, and then some more. Each time we go through a scene he’ll give us great notes afterwards: he knows we’ll try anything. It’s just feels so good when something is finally taking shape, because then you know you’re starting to own it.
Have you ever been to Germany, France, or Italy?
France, I wish! But, no. I did travel extensively in Germany, as well as Belgium and the Netherlands years ago on an entertainment tour sponsored by the Defense Department. Say, maybe that’s why I like the loofah line!
What do you want audiences to take with them after seeing you perform in Boeing Boeing?
It’s simple: I want the audience to have a GREAT time. To laugh so much that they can’t stop talking about how much they laughed while they’re on the way to their cars.