On Theater: Plenty of bounce in 'Boeing'

Now a certifiable antique, the 1962 French farce "Boeing Boeing" has been absent from local stages for the past three decades, but now several Southland theaters have cleared their runways for the Anglicized version of this popular comedy.

First up is the Newport Theatre Arts Center, where Marc Camoletti's frantic tale of romance on an airline schedule is once again tickling local audiences. Director Gigi Fusco Meese has crafted a vastly entertaining evening from what, on its surface, is a one-joke wonder.

The plot centers on Bernard, a bachelor living in Paris, who's courting three airline hostesses (Shelley Berman once famously referred to them as "stewardi") — an American, an Italian and a German. They're in and out of his apartment according to their airlines' schedules, and each claims to be Bernard's fiancee.

But airlines occasionally must alter their schedules (otherwise, this show could become quite boring). When two or more of the ladies are present at the same time, pandemonium ensues as Bernard and his visiting buddy frantically attempt to direct traffic.

In the Newport production, Thom Gilbert deftly manages the role of Bernard, juggling his three gorgeous fly gals with the crucial assistance of his maid (the Thelma Ritterish Jane Nunn) and enlisting his visiting buddy (David Colley) to act as his wing man.

Gilbert skillfully transitions from a fellow fully in control of his three-pronged love life to a maddened figure striving to keep all three at bay (and, at one point, going off the deep end into a frenzied tantrum). It's a kick to watch his sophisticated facade crumble piece by piece.

Colley is equally hilarious, employing physical rather then intellectual comedy (remember, Jerry Lewis played this role on screen) to placate the delectable visitors, even to the point of offering himself in sacrifice. After all, what are friends for?

The blunt-talking maid, an accomplice in the chicanery, is snappishly enacted by Nunn, whose character is ready and willing to take command of the sticky situation. Her dry wit is a strong counterpoint to the farcical madness around her.

The three airline hostesses are particularly effective, dramatically as well as physically. Ashley Wible is cuteness personified as the American, who turns out to be playing the same game as her paramour.

A pair of traffic-stopping beauties comprise the foreign contingent. Shayda Shivaei is breathtaking as the smooth-purring Italian entry, while Katrina Klein tears up the stage as the aggressive German, fiercely defending her territory.

The plot calls for no fewer than seven doorways in the apartment, and Andrew Otero's immaculate setting accomplishes this requirement splendidly. Joni Stockinger's costumes are eye-catching, as are Mitch Atkins' lighting effects.

"Boeing Boeing" is funnier than it has any right to be, thanks primarily to Meese's crackling direction and some high-energy performances. It's an exhausting evening of raucous romance at the Newport Theatre Arts Center.

TOM TITUS reviews local theater for the Daily Pilot.

If You Go

What: "Boeing Boeing"

Where: Newport Theatre Arts Center, 2501 Cliff Drive, Newport Beach

When: 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays until Dec. 15

Cost: $16

Information: (949) 631-0288 or http://www.ntaconline.com

Copyright © 2019, Daily Pilot
EDITION: California | U.S. & World