For Boeing-Boeing Tony Nominee McCormack, Bigger Is Better

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19 May 2008

Mary McCormack as Gretchen in <I>Boeing-Boeing</I>.
Mary McCormack as Gretchen in Boeing-Boeing.

Mary McCormack, who is perhaps best known for her work as Kate Harper on TV's "The West Wing," is currently earning some of the biggest laughs in the new Broadway production of Marc Camoletti's farce, Boeing-Boeing.

McCormack, who received a 2008 Tony nomination for Best Featured Actress in a Play, portrays the leggy, German flight attendant Gretchen in a cast that also boasts fellow Tony nominee Mark Rylance as well as two-time Tony winner Christine Baranksi, Bradley Whitford, Gina Gershon and Kathryn Hahn. At the May 14 Tony nominees press reception, the actress told that the hardest part of the rehearsal process was "understanding how big it could be. I spent a lot of my career being sort of small and natural, so it was really challenging for me to get brave enough to do it. I have to credit [director] Matthew [Warchus] and [co-star] Mark [Rylance] and all the other actors . . . for being really patient with me."

The actress says she is currently "having a ball" playing the domineering stewardess, who falls in and out of love several times throughout the two-act comedy. "Probably Matthew's going to come back and go, 'Whoa! Whoa, relax!'" she laughs.

McCormack's other Broadway credit was a stint as nightclub singer Sally Bowles in the Roundabout Theatre Company's Tony-winning revival of Kander and Ebb's Cabaret. About the demands of playing in a musical versus a play, she says, "I would say musicals are way more physically demanding normally, but with [Boeing-Boeing], we're not mic-ed at all, and the Longacre's not small. . . . [And], we're throwing each other around and rolling over stuff and banging into doors and furniture. I think this is actually more taxing on me. Also, Gretchen, my character, the German…so much of [the speaking] sits in my throat."

About her German accent, McCormack laughs, "I've been apologizing to Germans everywhere, but you do the best you can."

Mary McCormack has appeared Off-Broadway in My Marriage to Ernest Borgnine and A Fair Country and on the London stage in the original cast of bash. Her screen credits include "Right at Your Door," "1408," "Dickie Roberts," "Full Frontal," "World Traveller," "The West Wing," "ER," "K Street" and "Murder One." McCormack will be seen in USA Network's "In Plain Sight," which premieres this summer.