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Wednesday, 06 March 2013 00:22

Laughter Soars with 'Boeing Boeing'

Written by Missy Heinemann
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The Details

(Upper row) John Reidy, Kim Furlow (Lower row, left to right) Natasha Toro, Deanna Mazdra, Emily Baker and Chad Morris
(Upper row) John Reidy, Kim Furlow (Lower row, left to right) Natasha Toro, Deanna Mazdra, Emily Baker and Chad Morris / Zachary Stefaniak

It is easy to understand why "Boeing Boeing" became such a popular piece of French theater in the 1960's, with productions spanning fifty-five nations around the globe.  Written by Marc Camoletti and translated by Beverly Cross, "Boeing Boeing" has crossed cultural boundaries to reveal and poke fun at universal truths of relationships and romantic behavior.

Set in 1960’s Paris– the quintessential backdrop of romance and free-love, Boeing Boeing introduces Bernard, a dapper American using his ‘je ns sais quoi’ to pull off what many men would only dare to dream – capturing the affection of not one, but three flight attendants from around the world. Using the women’s flight schedules, Bernard meticulously organizes and plans for visits from all three women. One by one, however, the women’s schedules are altered and eventually, they all appear at his Parisian flat. Bernard is challenged to keep his fiancés from discovering one another. Slowly, we watch the hilarious unraveling of this once put-together player.

Breathing life into these international characters is a fine ensemble cast.  As the elusive play-boy Bernard, actor Chad Morris does what he can with the limited substance playwrite Camoletti offers this character. What is it about Bernard that attracts these three women? Seemingly, he is an average American living in Paris and, through a friend in the travel business, is introduced to three flight attendants whom he woos and wins. This, I believe, serves as a weak point in Camoletti’s revered play, as he never substantiates what it is that makes Bernard so desirable.

Helping Bernard orchestrate visits and plan cuisine is his pesky task-mastering maid, Berthe, played by actress Kim Furlow.  Also along for the ride is Bernard’s ever-loyal friend Robert, played by actor John Reidy.  Both Furlow and Reidy carry much of the production’s comedic weight as their characters run amok to prevent Bernard’s scheme from its ultimate reveal.  As the saucy Texan flight attendant and fiancé number one, actress Deanna Mazdra gives a magnetic performance, delivering her lines with a southern ease.  Playing the feisty Italian flight attendant and fiancé number two is actress Natasha Toro.  Tasked with performing in an Italian dialect, there are moments where Toro’s delivery sounds more Hispanic.  In spite of this, the character she creates is steady and pleasant to watch. 

As the third and final fiancé is Gretchen, the fiery German flight attendant, played by actress Emily Baker. Baker embodies her character from head to toe with incredible precision. From her thick German accent, well calculated movements and mannerisms, Baker showcases her impeccable artistry and evokes some of the loudest laughs of the production.

The set, designed by Scott Schoonover, does little in the way of connecting context with content. Set in a minimalist Parisian flat, Schoonover’s stark walls sponged with powder blue did very little to frame the play. While the few pieces of furniture were of the appropriate time period, there was nothing outstanding about its construct.  Ultimately, the set could benefit from detail – décor and props – in an effort to match the caliber and professionalism of the performers.

Piloting this production is Director Brad Shwartz, who does a wonderful job steering the cast. Though the last fifteen minutes begin gravitating toward a drawn-out punch line, Schwartz keeps actors delivering at a tempo necessary to keep audiences engaged until the play reaches its final destination.

In spite of a few gaps, Dramatic License Production’s staging of "Boeing Boeing" offers a high-energy, laugh-out-loud evening of theater. 

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