In Part 2 of a series of interviews with the cast of Boeing, Boeing at Montgomery Playhouse, meet Jim Breen.
Please introduce yourself and tell our readers where they may have seen you in the past year on local stages?
I have been been acting since I was seven when I played Joseph in the church pageant. Locally, I have appeared in Montgomery Playhouse’s WATCH Award-winning Stones in His Pockets as Charlie and seven other characters. For this role, I received the WATCH Award for Outstanding Actor in a Play (along with Kevin Dykstra). Some other of my Montgomery Playhouse credits include Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (Brick), The Importance of Being Earnest (Algernon), Laughter on the 23rd Floor (Max Prince), I Hate Hamlet (Barrymore), Company (David), The Answer (Heinz), Damn Yankees (Applegate the Devil), Gianni Schicchi (Harlequino), and several others. Elsewhere in the area, I have performed in The Kennedy Center’s Shear Madness, A Prayer for Owen Meany at Round House Theatre, The Spitfire Grill (H Street Playhouse), and The Learned Ladies (Catalyst Theatre). I am also a performer and teacher of improvisation, working with children and adults to foster creativity, teamwork, and fun. I reside in Rockville, MD and, by day, I am a corporate trainer at The Washington Post.
Why did you want to be part of Montgomery Playhouse’s production of Boeing, Boeing?
I am usually not a huge fan of farces, but was familiar with this show (it won the Tony for Best Revival in 2007). It seemed perfectly over-the-top and fun.
What did you perform at your audition and where were you when you got the call that you had the role?
The auditions consisted of cold readings from the script (though I read the script before auditions). After auditioning and assuring the casting committee that my real-life (read, single-parent) schedule would not be in the way, I was offered the part.
Who do you play in the show and how do you relate to your character?
I play Robert Castin the long-time friend of the playboy Bernard. I am passing through Paris and stop by to visit my old chum, Bernard. Robert is a guy fairly unsure of himself in the ways of love and bumbles his way through trying to be loyal to his friend. I, too, bumble through life, but am also loyal and kind, as is Robert.
What advice and suggestions did Director Lisa Holland give you that helped you prepare for your role? Have you worked with Lisa before? And how would you describe her style of directing?
I have worked with Lisa many times, including Cat on a Hot Tin Roof in 1998, winner of that year’s Ruby Griffith’s Award for Outstanding Production. For this role, Lisa told me to be my playful self. I like that sort of direction. Lisa is very open to improvisation and experimentation as long as the script is served faithfully.
Have you appeared in or seen other productions of Boeing Boeing before and who did you play and how is this production different and unique?
Have never seen nor appeared in any other productions of Boeing Boeing.
What is your favorite scene in the show that you are not in and what is your favorite scene that you are in?
My favorite scene that I am not in (I am in pretty much all scenes, though there are sections of scenes I am not in)…Judith’s first scene in Act One, the one in which she and Bertha discuss passion (and sex).
My favorite scenes that I am in include: the wooing of Judith (German stew); Janet’s (American Stew) seduction of my character, and Jacqueline’s (French Stew) French-style cheek kisses.
Which character in the show is most like you and why?
I have so much in common with my character, Robert; somewhat nerdy, definitely bumbling, and still nice and friendly and overall pleasant to be around. Also, no criminal record.
What do you admire most about your fellow castmates’ performances?
I most like and admire the willingness of the cast to play, experiment, laugh and constantly encourage one another.
How did you prepare for your role and what were the biggest challenges you faced and how did you resolve them?
In my last main stage show (Stones in His Pockets), I had to play eight characters, using five different Irish accents, an American accent, a Scottish accent, and an English accent. So, yea… I love shows with accents. I, therefore, practiced Robert’s particular accent which is placed more in the countryside beyond the confines of London. It’s looser, less refined, and just as Robert is… less refined. He’s very smart, just more salt-of-the-earth than his friend Bernard.
My biggest challenge… To resist having Robert come off as suave and to remember to be more provincial. Began to physicalize how that might look (slouching, for instance) and how a less-than-confident provincial bloke might sound (stuttering when facing pressure, looser diction/usage).
Why should audience goers bring their families to see Boeing Boeing?
Well, I’m not so sure it is for families with young children. After all, there is one female actor in a bath towel and others flaunting their physical gifts. It would make a fun date night though!
Boeing Boeing plays from February 13-March 1, 2015 at The Montgomery Playhouse performing at The Gaithersburg Arts Barn-311 Kent Square Road, in Gaithersburg, MD. For tickets,call (301) 258-6394, or purchase them online.
Meet the Cast of ‘Boeing, Boeing’ at Montgomery Playhouse: Part 1: Renetta Morelli.