The sky's the limit for the 'Sky Girls'

    Judith Hawking’s portrayal of Jackie Cochran, founder of the Women Airforce Service Pilots program, is most notable among a cast of actresses who are the life of “”Sky Girls,”” a play chronicling the final year of World War II’s W.A.S.P. program.

    The cast has the obvious talent. Tying together the aviation legend’s gumption with her understanding of 1940s female stereotypes, Hawking successfully characterizes Cochran’s complex personality. Her delightfully tongue-in-cheek impression of a “”feminine”” woman makes the audience roar. Sarah Rafferty’s portrayal of Mags is another praiseworthy role, as she makes her character not only laugh-out-loud funny, but also endearing.

    Despite the strength of the acting in this cast, Jenny Laird’s script does not take time to round out her characters. Even the strongest roles remain two-dimensional as they are forced into a rushed development in the second act, creating sudden chaos with the realization of their flaws. Supporting roles offer most of the comic relief, but are kept very one-dimensional.

    Laird’s script does have a lot of heart, however, and the historical lesson it teaches is clear. However, it attempts too much within a three-hour time limit and leaves most of the play’s development of the play until the second act.

    In creating the staging for “”Sky Girls,”” Russell Metheny cleanly utilizes his limited workspace and keeps easy spacing with his scenic design, using few props to make a visually coherent production. Sadly, Metheny’s color scheme is yawningly monotonous, although it must be noted that he does not stand alone in creating the dizzying array of blues and beiges that lay siege upon the stage. Holly Poe Durbin’s costume designs are the other half of this color debacle. Durbin outfits the cast in a nostalgic swath of summer dresses, red-slicked lips and high-heeled pumps when they are not in flight uniforms. These comparatively vibrant costumes, set against the blandly colored sets and inhabited by this excellent cast, allow the stage to come alive.

    While an enjoyable night’s entertainment, “”Sky Girlsa”” lacks a certain sophistication in its initially stunted, subsequently rushed development. It is a worthy desire to want to tell the story of the founder and the members of the W.A.S.P. program, but it is an effort that needs either to be narrowed down or put into a larger production.

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