(Cover Photo: The CAST of "BOEING BOEING" playing at the Cannon Theatre in Devens, MA. through November 13, 2022. Photo Courtesy of Shawn Cannon)
By Kevin T. Baldwin
“If life gets too Boeing, take flight.”
Book by Marc Camoletti
Directed by Martha Cox Brooks
Produced by Beth Drummey
Cast Includes: Lee Pallotta as Bernard; Glenn Wakeley as Robert; Sally Reid as Berthe; Maren Caulfield as Gloria; Lexi Rock as Gretchen; Liz Chirico as Gabriella
Additional Creative Team:
Stage Manager - Lisa Jensen-Fellows; Tech Director - Bret Bahe; Set Design - Shawn Cannon, Martha Brooks; Light Design - Joe Dunn; Set Build - Bret Bahe; Costumes - Shawn Cannon, Beth Drummey; Set Decoration - Martha Brooks; Props - Beth Drummey, Shawn Cannon.
October 28, 29, 2022 at 7:30pm
November 4, 5, 11 & 12, 2022 at 7:30pm
November 6 & 13, 2022 at 2:00pm
The Cannon Theatre, 28 Andrews Parkway, Devens, MA.
For Tickets Contact the Box Office at # 978-448-2108
The Cannon Theatre presents “BOEING BOEING,” a frenzied French farce about a bachelor engaged to three women, all of whom are unaware of each other, and he is about to encounter some major turbulence trying to keep it that way.
The three-act show (performed as two acts) is from 1960, written by Marc Camoletti and adapted for the English-speaking stage by Beverly Cross and Francis Evans.
Not to excuse some of the behavior and attitudes conveyed in this seriously dated comedy, but keep in mind that the words “Women’s Lib” hadn’t even been uttered yet in 1960 let alone the mor recent “#MeToo” or “Woke.”
There are terms used such as “stewardess” that may not even register for the very young as the antiquated reference was replaced decades ago with the more acceptable “flight attendant” or “flight crew.”
Used here, the “stewardesses” depicted in the comedy are presented as little more than “cocktail waitresses of the skies” (with due deference to cocktail waitresses) rather than capable, intelligent, accomplished members of their field.
However, keeping in mind the chauvinist truism “if it is wrong now it was wrong then,” you should still be able to view “BOEING BOEING” as representative of its era and, if you do, you will more easily find it a hilarious physical comedy.
(Photo: Lexi Rock and Sally Reid in a scene from "BOEING BOEING" playing at the Cannon Theatre in Devens, MA. through November 13, 2022. Photo Courtesy of Shawn Cannon)
American lothario Bernard (Lee Pallotta) lives in a beautiful apartment in Paris.
Bernard has a live-in French housekeeper, Berthe (Sally Reid), who helps him maintain his crazy, preposterous charade with his Italian, German, and American “fiancés.”
Reid plays Berthe with a ridiculously over the top, “Maurice Chevalier” French accent that is simply delightful.
Bernard’s three unsuspecting betrothed are all attractive “airline hostesses” - Gabriella (Liz Chirico) is Italian, Gretchen (Lexi Rock) is German and Gloria (Maren Caulfield) is American.
The actresses differentiate their characters well, providing each with their own distinct and well rounded and evolved personality. Regardless if this evolution either was aided by...or in spite of...Camoletti's script, the backstories for each woman seemed fully formed.
Also "fully formed" was the costuming which included the form-fitting, flattering and completely sexist uniform attire common to the "stewardess" era (and, again, hardly representative of today's flight crew).
Their respective, associated airline handbags were integral to the plot and a nice, critical touch by props which added great consistency. Kudos to costume/props team of Shawn Cannon and Beth Drummey.
(Photo: Glenn Wakeley, Liz Chirico and Lee Pallotta in a scene from "BOEING BOEING" playing at the Cannon Theatre in Devens, MA. through November 13, 2022. Photo Courtesy of Shawn Cannon)
Thanks to the fact that all work for different airlines, their scheduled “layovers” never seem to overlap, which is how Bernard has been so successful in keeping them from bumping into one another in his apartment.
The highly detailed single set design by Shawn Cannon and Martha Brooks (with set build by Bret Bahe and Matt Foster) is compact but is utilized quite well by the cast for the many moments of physical comedy involving the various “rooms” in Bernard’s apartment.
So, as Bernard entertains one in his luxurious apartment, the other two continue to fly their friendly skies oblivious to Bernard’s scheme. For Bernard it is sheer scheduling perfection.
“Perfection,” that is, until the newer and faster Boeing airplanes launch and throw Bernard an UN-scheduled…and catastrophic…curve ball.
The air hostesses encounter some turbulent schedule changes bringing all three to Bernard’s apartment at the same time.
In addition, Bernard's friend, Robert (Glenn Wakeley), unexpectedly comes to visit and is invited to stay at the apartment by Bernard.
Wakeley is extremely adept at the adrenaline-induced physical comedy and numerous pratfalls as Robert inadvertently becomes entangled in trying to maintain Bernard’s shameful secretive arrangement. His comedic timing was impeccable.
As indicated, the show is sexist. Incredibly, insultingly sexist. There were quite a few groans elicited from some in the audience for the antiquated dialogue. However, there were far more laughs which more than compensated.
The sexual farce also shows these three women as fiercely independent, competent and strong-willed. They are persistent and present more than a challenge for Bernard and Robert as things begin to totally unravel.
There were also a few noticeably persistent sound cue misfires at the October 28 performance but the actors recovered nicely and persevered.
Under the steady direction of Martha Brooks, the highly intricate blocking is executed well and the aforementioned antiquated concepts are equally counter-balanced well by the resolute nature of the actresses in the portrayal of their respective characters.
“BOEING BOEING” is a fun albeit dated show with a proficient cast and is a laugh riot well worth revisiting this era...if only for a little while.
Approximately two hours 30 minutes with one intermission.
Kevin T. Baldwin is a member of the American Theatre Critics Association (ATCA)
ABOUT THE SHOW
In Marc Camoletti's "BOEING BOEING," American playboy Bernard Lawrence is an architect based in Paris.
He lives with his fiancée, or shall we say... three fiancées!
He juggles all three as they are all flight attendants on three different airlines.
This works just fine as long as their flight schedules only bring them home every three days.
Bernard’s live-in French maid, Berthe, is key in pulling off this ruse, managing three sets of clothing, photographs, bed linens, and food preferences.
Things begin to unravel when there is a change to the women’s flight orders, making it increasingly difficult to keep them apart, and eventually bringing all three of them home on the same day!
In addition, Bernard’s longtime friend, Robert, has arrived in town unexpectedly.
Can he help Bernard, or is he just making things worse?
It just may be too much for everyone to handle!
ABOUT THE CANNON THEATRE
The Cannon Theatre was founded by Shawn Cannon and Bret Bahe, who shared a dream of creating a community theater – a place for learning, and great plays, a place where people could enjoy the company of others, laugh, and just lose themselves in the joy of artistic expression. Over the years, the theater incorporated, and then became a non-profit organization, managed so that every precious cent made from each production is carefully fed right back into the creation of the next. During the Pandemic of 2020, the theater was forced to close, as their overhead was too high, They began searching for a new space during 2021, and found it in the late summer of 2021.
The Cannon Theatre board, which still includes the theater’s very active and passionate founders, invites you to join us and experience this welcoming community, whether as an audience member, an actor, backstage crew, or even director. We guarantee you will leave feeling satisfied!
THE CANNON THEATRE
28 Andrews Parkway