BWW Review: BOEING, BOEING at New Theatre Restaurant
Tired of enduring the daily Washington political circus on TV and desperately seeking a several hour break? "Boeing Boeing" now playing through April 23rd at the delightful New Theatre Restaurant, may be the answer to unleashing your embedded, but lately dormant, giggle response.
"Boeing, Boeing" by Swiss born playwright Marc Camoletti is a 1962 French (mostly G-rated) sex farce that claims to be the most often produced French language, extended, one joke play ever. Don't worry, this production is in English.
The setup to the overall joke follows. American architect and playboy Bernard (Seth Macchi) lives in a luxurious Paris penthouse apartment served by his perpetually harassed and terminally sassy New Yorker maid Bertha (Debra Jo Rupp). The stylized set by Jason Coale is remarkable for its vaulted ceilings and its six adorned doors.
Bernard enjoys the ladies. We quickly find out that he is engaged to three beauties. Bernard has a system, he explains. All three women are airline stewardesses who work for Internationally flagged airlines. Each lady flies a work schedule that keeps two of them in the air while Bernard attends to the third and Bertha arranges a menu that suits individual tastes.
"Boeing Boeing" (in a time before Airbus) is the brand of aircraft flown by each airline. Boeing airplanes are forever improving and flying ever faster and longer while reducing the time that Bernard has available to juggle his three romances.
Bernard's long lost friend Robert (Craig Benton) from Wisconsin shows up unexpectedly. Gloria (Ashley Pankow), the Texas born TWA stew, is on her way out the door just as Robert arrives. Bernard is delighted to see his old friend Robert and invites him to become a house guest.
Robert agrees to stay just in time to meet Bernard's Alitalia stewardess fiancé, busty Gabrielle (Jessica Kincaid). Robert leaves to pick up his luggage at the airport and Bernard takes Gabriella to dinner. Bertha is incrementally confused and exasperated.
Into the temporary emptiness of the apartment strides the third stewardess, Gretchen (Ashton Heyl) from Luftanza and she makes a beeline for her bedroom. Robert returns with the luggage and collapses on the living room couch exhausted. Getchen mistakes Robert for Bernard, lays a big scmooch on him, and Robert likes it.
You should be able to see where all this is going and why we need all those doors. Bernard's carefully staged aerial ballet is about to hard land around his ears. He returns after dinner. Bernard alternately distracts one or another of the ladies. And Robert runs interference for him. Surprise! Gloria (the TWA Stew) returns to Paris because of a flight ending storm. Meanwhile, maid Bertha continues to circle and waits for the tower to clear her for landing or to issue other instructions.
Hillary Clinton used to claim it "takes a village." Here it takes a talented ensemble and split second timing so that just barely avoided meetings continue for two acts over close to two hours. I won't spoil the obvious joke possibilities for you. Director Dennis Hennessy has hired an excellent group and installed the multiple doors that cue the next actor with appropriate sound cues. "Boeing, Boeing" is an ensemble piece. Everybody is better than good. The audience roars.
The star attraction is Debra Jo Rupp from TV's "That 70's show." Debra does a fine job as Bertha. The most recent Broadway iteration of "Boeing Boeing" in 2008 featured Christine Baranski ("Chicago," "Mama Mia," "The Good Wife," "The Big Bang Theory") in the same role. All three stewardesses are excellent, attractive, and distinctive in their own way. Seth Macchi as Bernard is alternately sleazy, inappropriate, and horrified.
If there is a star, it has to be Craig Benton as Robert. The guy has the right sardonic twist, picks up cues like lightning, and does every comedy move known to stage short of a spit take.
"Boeing Boeing" is a fun break from your daily foolishness. The New Restaurant Restaurant features a very respectable meal, a first class venue, and a staff that stumbles over itself to see to your needs. It should be on your "To Do" list as winter grinds to a close and the first buds of spring pop out of the garden.
Photo by Roy Inman courtesy of New Theatre Restaurant.