Former Groundling Andy Schell’s cute, humorous recollection of his 12 years as a flight attendant on Desert Airlines offers comic introspection into the frustrations and wry workings of the job. While not roll-in-the-aisle comedy, Schell does elicit a fair number of laughs and a multitude of knowing smiles — as attested by the full houses and the many extensions of this play’s run.
Schell relates that he managed to land a job as a steward, where he finds himself a solo gay in a sea of straights. He slings drinks and peanuts for a company “where the flight attendants wear shorts, and sing, and the plane stops three times between L.A. and Phoenix.”
In Dallas (“where every word contains a diphthong”), his training consists of miming putting out cabin fires and applying CPR to his flight manual (to save the cost of fire extinguishers and dummies, respectively). He thinks of his aircraft not as a soaring jet but — considering the clientele — a”flying petri dish.”
In a touching moment, he recalls the wisdom of an ancient passenger; later he sits at a piano and accompanies himself to a tune he wrote.
His opening number has him utilizing every bit of imaginable flight paraphernalia (such as an oxygen mask, seat belt and life jacket) as he dances up a storm.
He is assisted in many of his vignettes by the versatile Bridget Sienna, who plays everything from his initial interviewer and trainer to an oversexed passenger who tries to seduce him. Her vocal and facial elasticity create some hilarious variations of character with little redundancy.
But it is definitely Schell’s show and, under the deft hand of director Stephen Hibbert, Schell’s stories strike the funny bone with universal appeal.
Throughout the evening, Schell is a charmer, captivating the audience with his considerable wit and his boy-next-door charisma.