by Jess Hoffman
I’ve spoken to some theatergoers who tell me how tired they are of Boeing Boeing. It’s not that it isn’t a good play, they say, just that it is so overdone. To be sure, Boeing Boeing is a community theater favorite, but before you decide that we ought to retire this old chestnut, I encourage you to check out the Circle Theatre Players’ production at Sand Lake Center for the Arts. This lively and hilarious production just might remind you that those overplayed classics are classics for a reason!
For anyone unfamiliar, Boeing Boeing is a farce from the 1960s (originally written in French by Marc Camoletti and translated to English by Beverly Cross) about a philanderer in Paris who is engaged to three different airline stewardesses. He manages juggling his relationships because of the women’s busy schedules, but when all three women end up in the city at the same time, everything turns to chaos.
The play takes place in a luxurious Parisian flat, and set designers Peter Quinones and Shawn Morgan have turned the SLCA stage into an authentically 1960s, convincingly upscale home. The wall art is both apropos of the time period and in a red, yellow, and green color scheme that mirrors the costume colors of the three stewardesses. The only part of the set that is unconvincing is the two dimensional and ever unchanging view of Paris behind the stage left window. Quinones and Morgan would have done much better to leave the flat’s view of the Parisian skyline up to the imagination.
The costumes are similarly appropriate for the time period. They are sleek and stylish, but not over-the-top. Costume designer Lisa Morgan keeps to a distinct color scheme for the three stewardesses, not only for their airline uniforms but also their house clothes. Gloria dresses in red, Gabriella in green, and Gretchen in yellow. This production also has its philandering protagonist, Bernard (played by Shawn Morgan), swapping between red, yellow, and green pocket squares as he interacts with his different fiances. I thought this tope would get old by the end of the play, but I chuckled every time Bernard panickingly swapped out his handkerchiefs. The adherence to the red, green, and yellow color scheme is almost heavy-handed; but it works well in the context of the farce. (Boeing Boeing is many things–entertaining, funny, and high-energy–but I wouldn’t describe it as subtle or sly.)
This production comes together with a fine cast. All three of the stewardesses have their own distinct personalities that the actresses have no trouble leaning in to for comedic effect. Gloria (played by Isabella Varno) is amorous and pouty; Gabriella (played by Christine Geraci) is haughty and willful; and Gretchen (played by Kelly Sienkiewicz) is passionate and endearingly dramatic. Logan Haynes’s portrayal of Bernard’s friend Robert has a hilarious manic energy that never gets tiresome. It is largely thanks to Haynes’s energy that this two-and-a-half-hour show keeps its momentum and doesn’t drag. Bernard is more of a “straight-man” character and in this Shawn Morgan is an excellent foil off of which the comedic actors can play. Still, I wish Morgan could find ways to bring a bit more depth or personality to the character. (As I said, Boeing Boeing is neither a profound nor subtle play, but there are still opportunities to bring some dimension to the characters.) The same can be said of Rita Machin as Berthe. Machin’s exasperated sass is very funny, but I wish she found moments to give Berthe a bit more personality rather than relying only on exasperation and sass to drive her performance.
If you are still stubbornly of the opinion that Boeing Boeing ought to be retired, then perhaps you should sit this production out. For all of its merit, I cannot say that the Circle Theatre Players have introduced anything novel or revolutionary to the classic comedy. However, if you are looking for a bundle of laughs, or a thoroughly entertaining farce to distract and delight you for a few hours, then I highly recommend that you see Boeing Boeing at the Sand Lake Center for the Arts.
The Circle Theatre Players present Boeing Boeing by Marc Camoletti at the Sand Lake Center for the Arts, 2880 NY 43 Averill Park, NY. Directed by Barry Streifert. Runs from June 9-18, 2023. Assistant director: Norm Eick. Producer: Shirley Neiss. Stage Manager: Linda Thorburn. Board operators: Cory Haines and Candice Potrafka. Cast: Shawn Morgan as Bernard, Logan Haynes as Robert, Rita Machin as Berthe, Christine Geraci as Gabriella, Isabella Varno as Gloria, Kelly Sienkiewicz as Gretchen. Set design by Peter Quinones and Shawn Morgan. Costume design by Lisa Morgan. Lighting/Sound design by Barry Streifert. Props by Grace Briscoe. Lighting tech by Bob Healey and Kassadi Jarvis.
Performance dates are Friday-Sunday. Friday, and Saturday curtains are at 8:00pm and Sundays are matinees only at 2:30pm. Tickets are $20, student tickets available for $10. Runs approximately 2 hours and 30 minutes with a 10 minute intermission. Contains sexually suggestive situations and conversations. Recommended for ages 12+. Tickets are available online at https://slcactp.square.site, or at the door for any performance. For more information visit https://slca-ctp.org or call 518-674-2007.