BWW Reviews: BOEING-BOEING Takes Off at Fells Point Corner Theatre
Bernard (a jubilant, spot-on Adam Bloedorn) thinks he's got his triple life down to a science as he jots his fiancées' flight schedules in a notebook, relying on his loyal-if-delightfully-snarky housekeeper Berthe (superbly portrayed by Kate Shoemaker; in fact, she was by far my favorite character) to ensure preferred meals are served up in proper order and bases are otherwise covered. But when an old American friend, Robert (a charming David Shoemaker), shows up at his door and is invited to stay, things begin to get turbulent.
Fiancée No. 1, Gloria (Wesley Niemann), an American hostess for TWA, heads off to catch her flight but not before flirting up a storm with Robert, who convincingly exudes straight-laced Midwestern discomfort at the attention. He's further bowled over when Bernard confides that not only does he have three fiancées--American, Italian and German ("the perfect example of international romantic bliss")--but he has no intention of marrying any of them.
When Gloria is gone, Fiancée No. 2, Italian Gabriella (Rachel Roth) of Alitalia, appears, but it's not long before Fiancée No. 3, Gretchen (Cassandra Dutt), shows up unfortunately early, owning the stage with her endless legs, perfectly blonde hair and booming voice-not to mention her Lufthansa bag. Storms over the Atlantic mean Gloria is sent back to Paris, and while Bernard steals away with Gabriella, poor Robert is left to juggle the other two. Don't feel too bad for him, though, as he demurely and somewhat awkwardly works his way into their hearts.
The thing with farce is that it requires impeccable timing. If a door opens too early or paths cross too late, the jig is up. Director Josh Shoemaker must have drilled this cast endlessly, as their frenzied movements on, off and across the stage were flawless, even on opening night. The one blooper I noted--a stuck door--was expertly improvised by Bloedorn, and things kept right on moving. Otherwise, the complicated, six-door set (designed by Roy Steinman) supported the action perfectly and served as eye candy to boot. Completely covered in colorful rectangles of multiple sizes--like a Mondrian work--down to the stained glass in the front door, it screamed 1960s and served as a perfect complement to the mod furniture.
While Bloedorn and David Shoemaker are charismatic and lovable, the actresses keep this production airborne. Of particular note are Kate Shoemaker, whose Berthe is downright hilarious, thanks to Shoemaker's delivery; her facial expressions are priceless, and she fluidly transitions from nonplussed to conspiratorial. Niemann's Gloria seems cloying until you realize she's got a trick or two up her perfectly pressed sleeve. Niemann relays Gloria's American sensibilities with panache and verve, especially when she takes matters with Robert into her own hands. While Roth and Dutt do a great job overall, their accents fade in and out, which proves to be distracting and frustrating.
Still, the even cast serves as an ideal crew to take Boeing-Boeing for a whirl. Don't miss this opportunity to treat yourself to a couple of hours of nonstop entertainment.
Boeing-Boeing runs Thursday-Sunday through Feb. 9 at Fells Point Corner Theatre, 251 S. Ann St. in Baltimore. Its next production, Tales of Ordinary Madness, opens Feb. 14. For more information, visit www.fpct.org.