Community Players’ New Season Takes Off with Boeing Boeing

by Bob McLaughlin and John Lieder

Fasten your seatbelts and turn off your electronic devices. Community Players is flying to new altitudes with the first play of the 2016-2017 season, Marc Camoletti’s farce about the swinging jet-set, Boeing Boeing. The plot is as straightforward as you’d expect a French farce to be: Bernard, an architect living in a Paris flat, has three girlfriends, all stewardesses (stewardi?), all working for different airlines, all from different countries. Owing to their schedules, none is ever in Paris at the same time, so with the help of his maid, Berthe, Bernard is able to keep a tight schedule, saying good-bye to one young woman just as another is arriving. (One wonders how he has time to design any buildings.) Bernard is in heaven, as he explains to his American school chum Robert, who has dropped in for a visit. How quickly heaven can turn to hell. The new Boeing jetliners are faster than ever, schedules are changed, all three stewardesses show up at the same time, and Robert is enlisted to help keep the women in the dark.

Boeing Boeing has a production history almost as complicated as its plot. It was originally produced at the Comédie-Caumartin in Paris in 1960. In 1962 an English translation opened in London, starring David Tomlinson (Mr. Banks in Mary Poppins!) as Robert, where it ran for seven years. Oddly, Broadway audiences didn’t take to the show. The initial New York production, in 1965, ran only twenty-three performances. Also in 1965 the play was adapted into a film, starring Tony Curtis and Jerry Lewis. (I read somewhere that this project was intended to be a vehicle for Lewis and Dean Martin before their breakup; my research can’t confirm this, and the dates don’t seem right, but it would have been dream casting.)

In 2007 Boeing Boeing was a hit in London all over again. Director Matthew Warchus commissioned a new English translation and recruited Shakespearean superstar Mark Rylance to play Robert. (Rylance recently won the Academy Award for his supporting role in Bridge of Spies.) The next year, Warchus and Rylance brought the production to Broadway, where Americans finally got the joke. The play ran for 279 performances and won Tony Awards for Best Revival of a Play and Best Performance by a Leading Actor.

In our production, Dave Krostal plays the triple-timer, Bernard. His friend, Robert, is played by Josh McCauley. Our three fiancees are played by Cristen Monson as Gretchen, Bridgette Richard as Gabriella, and Terri Whisenhunt as Gloria. Bernard’s maid, Bertha, is played by Jen Schuetz.

The production is directed by Bill Zorn. Martha Smith serves as Assistant Director and Stage Manager. Eddy Arteman is in charge of costumes. The Plotkins, Carol and Rich, are doing Props and Sounds, respectively. Mark Wright is Lighting Designer and Wendi Ayers is House Manager.

Chris Terven is Producer and Designer-Builder with help from Bruce Parrish as Assistant Builder. Their unit set takes the audience to Bernard’s Paris apartment, where all the action of the play takes place. The set’s multiple levels and numerous doorways provide an interesting playground for the actors.

The Pay-What-You-Can Preview Performance is Thursday, September 1 with regular performances September 2-4 and 9-11. As always, evening performances are at 7:30 and Sunday matinees are at 2:30. Please note that Boeing, Boeing is only being performed for two weekends and there is no Thursday performance the second weekend.

Boeing, Boeing is light-hearted with little objectionable language and no violence, but the show is not intended for very young children.


Photos by John Lieder