Sarcastic stewardesses make all the connections in Centerstage’s Mud Blue Sky

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(Susan Rome and Eva Kaminsky in Mud Blue Sky by Marisa Wegrzyn, directed by Susanna Gellert. Photo by Richard Anderson.)

No woman wants to hear the line, “You look good for your age.”  But finding the humor in such back-handed banter is a hallmark of  Centerstage’s production of Marisa Wegrzyn’s delightfully devilish new play Mud Blue Sky.

Ably directed by Susanna Gellert, Mud Blue Sky takes a wry but rapt look at the lives of three stewardesses in transition.  Beyond the broad comedy, Mud Blue Sky has a certain insider’s feel and with good reason.  Wegrzyn, an up-and-coming playwright, is the daughter of a former flight attendant.

As the play opens, we are introduced to stick-in-the-mud Beth and her carousing co-worker Sam.  Sam wants to blow off some steam, but Beth has the look of one layover too many.  Sam gets her kicks by bar-hopping with retired flight attendant Angie and by mixing expensive cognac with 7-Up.  Beth secretly prefers the peace proffered by a pot-packing nerd named Jonathan.  As the story unfolds, each character claims her baggage in a way that combines humor with an undeniable world-weariness.

Susan Rome in CENTERSTAGEÕs production of Mud Blue Sky by Marisa Wegrzyn, directed by Susanna Gellert. Photo © Richard Anderson.For all the hilarity, Mud Blue Sky has its tender side, too.  In the disaffected flight attendants, we see three women who have come to realize that living life out of a suitcase is not as glamorous as it once seemed.  Even Jonathan loosens the silk tie of his prom night attire to grouse about his terrible treatment at the hands of toying tarts.

Susan Rome persuasively portrays Beth, a career-girl on the cusp of a major life change.  Rome hit some turbulence early in the show, but these momentary descents seemed right in character for the stodgy stewardess at war with her inept inner free spirit.

Eva Kaminsky and Justin Kruger in CENTERSTAGEÕs production of Mud Blue Sky by Marisa Wegrzyn, directed by Susanna Gellert. Photo © Richard Anderson.Eva Kaminsky simply soared as the high-flying Sam.  Kaminsky had the audience reaching for the oxygen masks, as she battled with Beth, boozed it up with Angie, and brazenly beckoned Jonathan.  Kaminsky also maneuvered her flattering flight uniform to great effect allowing the audience to guess her trajectory as she slowly moved off the radar screen.

Justin Kruger appears as Jonathan, the bespeckled 17-year-old everyone remembers from high school.  Kruger plays the artsy oddball with an innocuous but simmering edge.  His awkward passes are unoffending; his outbursts – purely hormonal.

In the role of the aging Angie, Cynthia Darlow is a delightful mix of bemused bedfellow and street-wise senior.  Darlow is not as polished as Betty White, but the similarities are self-evident as she surprises with shockingly funny retorts pulled from the overhead bin.

Director Susanna Gellert’s pacing is near perfect and she, along with Scenic Designer Neil Patel, offered the audience a thoroughly convincing stage which served double duty as a bland hotel room and an unpaved parking lot.  The cramped confines of the dull room drew the audience into a world where we could feel the walls closing in around the characters.  Outside, the cast was free to shed the shackles of their ephemeral existence; the sound of jet engines signaling overdue departures and landings.

Costume Designer Jennifer Moeller’s selections fit the quirks of each character to a tee, not only with Sam’s form-fitting wool skirt but with Beth’s boring sleepware and Jonathan’s Converse All Star sneakers.  Lighting Designer Scott Zielinski and Sound Designer Victoria (Toy) Delorio flawlessly pull off the task of transporting the audience within deafening earshot of Chicago’s busy O’Hare Airport.

A tip of the sky-cap to Casting Director Stephanie Klapper for bringing together such an entertaining cast.

Centerstage’s production of Mud Blue Sky runs from now through April 14.  Running time is about one hour and forty minutes.  No intermission, so please be aware that you are not free to move about the cabin for the duration of the show.  Tickets and other information may be found here.