Arts & Entertainment
Theater Review: Boeing-Boeing
From Issue: Volume XXI - Number 2
By Ben Miles
“Boeing-Boeing” was initially staged at London’s Apollo Theatre, in 1962. By 1991, the French farce – by Marc Camoletti (and translated by Beverly Cross and Francis Evans) – was listed in the “Guinness Book of Records” as the most performed French play in the world. Sorry, Monsieur Moliere.
Nevertheless, when “Boeing-Boeing” debuted on Broadway in 1965, it closed after a mere 23 performances. Though it was adapted by Singapore’s W!LD RICE theater company, in 2002, playing successfully to international audiences, it wasn’t seen again on the London stage again until it’s revival in 2007. When that well-received production transferred to Broadway, in 2008, it won a Tony Award for Best Revival of a Play.
Now, “Boeing-Boeing” has landed at the La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts, through February 10. The concept is simple: At the dawning of the jet age, international playboy, Bernard (a comically syncopated Carter Roy) has what he thinks is a foolproof plan for philandering. At his apartment near Paris’ Orly airport, Bernard has become the fiancé of an American flight attendant, Gloria (Melanie Lora in a sexy, sassy characterization). But that’s not all. Bernard is also engaged to an Italian stewardess, Gabriella (a sizzling Kalie Quinones), as well as to German jet hostess, Gretchen (a boisterously demanding Amy Rutberg).
Bernard, as he confides to his visiting American friend, Robert (an exuberantly charming Marc Valera), is not so much interested in a wedding as in being engaged to be wed. In this way, he has access to this trio of would-be-wives – so long as he can continue to juggle their flight schedules in such a manner as to keep the women from a colliding encounter with one another. Unfortunately, aeronautical technology, with its faster flights, has thrown a stray fight-gear into Bernard’s lascivious ploys. The stewardesses are arriving more quickly and unexpectedly than Bernard’s timetable had allowed for.
Add to this erotic frenzy Bernard’s French housekeeper, Berthe (given a wise-cracking, cynical interpretation by Michelle Azar), and we have a mid-century conceit that plays like an early template for the sixties sitcom, “Love American Style.” But eventually, we see the requisite farcical elements of “Boeing-Boeing” take flight. There’s the door-slamming, the who’s who identity questions, and the quirky resolution.
Directed by Jeff Maynard, the show’s mise en scene exudes fun and frivolity. Unfortunately, the script is a sort of one joke pony times three, becoming somewhat tiresome in its two and-a-half hours onstage. Still, the production values are enchanting. Kevin Clowes’ set-design evokes the go-go boot era colorfully and credibly. Costuming by Helen Butler is a co-star in “Boeing-Boeing.” The flight attendant attire is spot-on and spectacularly complimentary to the shapely bodies of the performers. Too bad, however, about Josh Bessom’s sound design; it crackled inconstantly throughout the first act of the show, distorting dialogue and unpleasantly aggravating the theatrical experience at the reviewed matinee.
While “Boeing-Boeing” doesn’t hit the farcical high-bar of, say, “Noises Off,” it does provide a few laughs and some titillating sexuality. That may leave enough for some theatergoers to be satisfied.
“Boeing-Boeing” continues at the La Mirada Theatre for the Performing arts through Feb. 10. The theater is located at 14900 La Mirada Boulevard, La Mirada. Evening performances are at 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays and at 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Matinees are at 2 p.m. on Saturday and Sundays. For reservations, call (562)944-9801. For online ticketing, visit www.lamiradatheatre.com .