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Boeing-Boeing

a Comedy
CATEGORY : COMEDY
by Marc Camoletti, translated by Beverley Cross

COMPANY : Aurora Theatre [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Aurora Theatre [WEBSITE]
ID# 3723

SHOWING : May 06, 2010 - May 30, 2010

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PRODUCTION DESCRIPTION

If you take the French people’s passion for romance and the carefree attitude of the swingin’ 60’s, you have the perfect playground for Marc Camoletti’s farce, "Boeing-Boeing." This crowd-pleasing comedy became the 1965 film starring Jerry Lewis & Tony Curtis and more recently won the 2008 Tony Award for Best Revival. "Boeing-Boeing" invites you to fly the really friendly skies with Bernard, an architect living in Paris, who has been successfully juggling three (yes, three) fiancées who are all flight attendants. His housekeeper reluctantly plays romantic air-traffic controller as they fly in and out of his swanky bachelor pad. But when his old college pal Robert visits, things get turbulent in the final production of Aurora Theatre’s 14th season, starting on May 6 continuing through May 30.


CAST & CREW LIST
Director Susan Reid
Robert Andrew Benator
Jacqueline Cheri Christian
Bertha Nita Hardy
Janet Megan Hayes
Judith Courtney Patterson
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REVIEWS

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Farced Landing
by Dedalus
Thursday, May 20, 2010
4.0
You’ve got to love people behaving badly. After all, without them, we’d never have farce.

Take Bernard, for example (and, by anyone’s ethical standards, someone should). A high flying architect, he is currently engaged to three stewardesses, juggling his (and their) scheduled “together time” with the finesse of a Karamazov Brother with a chainsaw and a water balloon. Why marry when you can get in-flight service for free? Toss into the mix an old school friend, an exasperated housekeeper, and an unplanned storm that brings all three fiancées home at the same time, and you have the makings for a juicily joyful romp and roll.

For the most part, Aurora’s production of Marc Camoletti’s 1960 farce (the English-language translation by Beverley Cross premiered on Broadway in 1965 and was revived in 2008) succeeds, for the most part, thanks mostly to an energetic cast, and a beautifully retro-sixties production design. (Actually, the design is more Austin-Powers-sixties parody than true sixties, but is actually more effective for that.)

Joe Knezevich is Bernard, cheerfully chewing the scenery with a faux-French accent that as wickedly off-center as his ethical compass. Andrew Benator plays against type as the nebbishy Robert, who is able to ratchet up the desperation index as his own feelings for the German Judith begin to assert themselves. As the how-can-we-serve-you trio of stewardesses, Cheri Christian, Megan Hayes, and Courtney Patterson all create out-of-the-ordinary characters, all of whom could have remained which-accent-am-I stereotypes, all of whom instead strive to be as blithely off-center as their common fiancé. Only Nita Hardy as the flummoxed housekeeper Bertha seems to lag behind the others. It’s not that she’s anything less than quite good; it’s only that she seems to aiming for the bar rather than trying to fly over it.

The production also seems to begin with a rather languid too-much-exposition sequence that could have benefited from a little more comic invention (or bawdy humor). But, once the second scene begins and all the complications begin to pile up, the production takes off and doesn’t land until the final destination. To further belabor the airline metaphor, you can think of this show as a smooth flight with a rather long taxi-ing at the beginning.

Granted, you can argue that this piece is “by-the-numbers” farce – Bad Behavior plus Innocent Bystander plus Complications. Mr. Camoletti even kept these character names for his later effort, “Don’t Dress for Dinner.” Still, it is a likeable confection that goes down as easily (and saltily) as a bag of in-flight peanuts. The cast are obviously enjoying themselves, the pace never lets up (once it takes off), and the actors make even the most unlikeable aspects of these people thoroughly charming and palatable.

And the set is one of those trendy beige-on-beige affairs that was so beloved by trendy 1960’s movie-bachelors that you can’t help but love it the minute you sit down. Just don’t take note of the abundance of doors you know will soon be slamming in perfect synchrony.

-- Brad Rudy (BKRudy@aol.com)


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Boeing-Boeing Bonn
by playgoer
Sunday, May 9, 2010
4.5
Aurora's "Boeing-Boeing" starts and ends with a couple of inventive directorial touches. At the start, the curtain speech is done in the style of pre-flight instructions. At the end, the curtain calls are done in go-go dance style, ending with Nita Hardy pinching her nose and disappearing downward from the porthole-like kitchen window doing the Swim. Both are touches that bring the audience into the era of the early 60's. The pre-show music, of American, French, and German rock hits of the 60's, neatly parallels the set-up of the show, which concerns a French architect who is engaged to three air hostesses, one American, one French, and one German. These touches let the audience know they are in the sure hands of an experienced, fun-loving director.

The set, by Jamie Bullins, contains the requisite number of identical doors that a farce requires, and is filled with wonderful vintage-style furnishings that clearly delineate the time period. Three airline-style clocks above the foyer entrance, pinpointed by Rob Dillard's lighting, allow for inventive scene starts as the three air hostess fiancées arrive. The costumes by Linda Patterson, particularly the Lufthansa costume for the German fiancée, also delight the eye and help set the time period.

The acting is all of the slightly heightened style a farce requires, with oversized emotions and comedic blocking. Joe Knezevich takes to this like a duck to water. He has the requisite good looks for a French playboy, yet reacts with the comic timing of a baggy-pants vaudeville comedian. Priceless. Courtney Patterson, as the German fiancée, equals his fearlessness in jumping with both feet into ridiculously comic bits. Andrew Benator, as the provincial Robert, also gets into the farcical action, as does Nita Hardy, playing the housekeeper. Both get lots of laughs in reacting to the close shaves as fiancée after fiancée enter the apartment. Cheri Christian, as the French fiancée, gets to play sincerity more than the other fiancées, but the American fiancée, played by Megan Hayes, gets some terrific comic bits, based on a very continental perspective on her American identity.

"Boeing-Boeing" is a sex-based French farce, but its 60's raciness is pretty tame by today's standards. The happy ending reinforces the standard morality of one woman, one man, so the set-up of the plot is more of a tease than anything else. The brunette, blonde, and auburn-wigged air hostesses (and the housekeeper, not to mention the men) each engage in some passionate kissing during the play, all blocked in sparkling, stylized fashion that brings a smile to the lips. This is a show that sits squarely between wholesomeness and titillation, bringing lots of laughs along the way.

One warning – all the characters speak with accents (mostly French). These are nicely done, but can make some of the dialogue easy to miss for those not attuned to accents, especially when the actor's volume is low, as seems to happen most often with Andrew Benator. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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