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Staff Sgt. Bertrand Foley on stage in Puyallup

Staff Sgt. Bertrand Foley, middle, helps Airman Olaf Somerlick, left, and Staff Sgt. Amanda Tissue troubleshoot a weather radar issue aboard a C-17 on McChord Field Tuesday. JBLM PAO photo

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It’s been more than a decade since Air Force Staff Sgt. Bertrand Foley, 62nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, acted in shows or directed his high school production of “Little Shop of Horrors.”

He recalls his days as a thespian at Pleasant Valley High School in Brodheadsville, Pa., where he portrayed a bailiff in “Witness for the Prosecution” and a Nazi, a priest and a ballroom dancer in “The Sound of Music.”

But, after one year of college at East Stroudsburg University, in East Stroudsburg, Pa., Foley said, he decided he’d rather have someone else pay his college tuition. So, he followed in his dad’s footsteps and joined the Air Force, hardly expecting to be able to continue his passion for theater while serving his country as an aircraft mechanic.

That was 8 years ago. Now, Foley is one of a six member cast in the Act 1 Theatre Production Company’s production of Beth Henley’s dark comedy, “Crimes of the Heart,” at the Liberty Theater, 116 W. Main Ave. in Puyallup, which opens Friday and runs Saturday and Feb. 16 and 17.

“I’ve always loved community theater; in fact, I have season tickets to the Lakewood Playhouse,” Foley said.

It was sometime last summer when Foley, who lives in Puyallup, met Petra Karr, of Seattle, Act 1 Theatre’s artistic director, while both were shopping at the Puyallup Farmer’s Market.

They got to talking and Karr convinced Foley to become part of an improvisation group with Act 1 and, subsequently, he auditioned and earned a role in “Crimes of the Heart.” He’s also been cast in a small role in the company’s next production, “Charlotte’s Web.”

Karr said she’s impressed with Foley’s ability to be a team player and also do well in his own role.

“He’s talented and also capable of playing well with others; as a director, that makes me happy,” she said.

“Crimes of the Heart” is about a dysfunctional family that includes three sisters.

“Before there were the ‘Gilmore Girls,’ there were the McGrath sisters,” Karr said, comparing the three starring women of her play to the mother-daughter duo in the long-running television comedy. “It’s all about small town life.”

However, the “Crimes” women have a much darker past and present to portray.

While one of the women, Lenny, stayed home to care for the siblings’ grandfather, who dies before the start of the play, the middle sister, Meg, goes to Los Angeles to pursue a career, but returns home after giving up the dream, and the youngest sister, Babe, creates the play’s biggest drama when she shoots her husband in the stomach.

Add in Chick Boyle, a McGrath cousin, who lives next door to the family and enjoys gossip and being involved in everyone else’s business, somewhat similar to the Mrs. Kravitz character in the classic TV series, “Bewitched.”

The two male characters in the show are Barnett Lloyd, a lawyer with a bit of a crush on Meg and a vendetta against her husband, and, Foley’s character, Doc Porter, Meg’s old boyfriend.

Much like Foley’s personal characteristics, Porter is somewhat laid back, warm, honest and an all around nice guy.

Foley said he enjoys being part of the company and plans to continue his acting when he eventually retires from the military, in another 12 years, maybe even moving to Hollywood.

For now, he loves his career with the Air Force.

“I love the camaraderie and working with my hands,” he said.

He also enjoys pop culture, including music, movies and sports.

“I love to make people laugh,” he said. “And, I love to be the center of attention.”

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