Boeing-Boeing, written by French playwright Marc Camoletti, translated into English and adapted by Beverley Cross and Francis Evans, and directed for Temple Theatre of Sanford by Craig Rhyne of New York City, secured a Guinness record for being the most-produced French play in the world. And judging by the opening weekend of Sanford, NC’s historic Temple Theatre, it’s not hard to see why.
This soaring comedy takes all the 1960s posturing of Mad Men and turns it on its head. Bernard (played by Philip Powell) is an American ex-pat living in Paris during the Swinging Sixties. He’s engaged to a lovely American flight attendant from Georgia (a cool and collected Trish Hamilton), whose eating habits are a source of endless dismay to Bernard’s French housekeeper Bertha (the incomparable Lynda Clark). They are all surprised by a visit from Bernard’s childhood friend Robert (the ebullient Steve Moore), who is newly arrived in France.
Things take a turn when Gloria heads off to catch her next flight, and Bernard confides to his old friend that he has not one fiancé but three. Flying in that afternoon is Gabriela, Bernard’s Italian fiancé (played with lovely ferocity by Nicki Hard), followed by his German fiancé Gretchen (powerhouse Peggy Taphorn) later that evening.
Robert is initially horrified, but Bernard insists that managing three women is entirely doable as long as one keeps a tight schedule. But of course, this is theater; and it’s not long before everything starts to go wrong. What follows is a madcap adventure of geographical juggling as the two men try to deal with the turbulence of cancelled flights, overlapping fiancés, and revolving bedrooms. It’s only a matter of time before Bernard’s carefully constructed world heads for an emergency landing.
The show is a lighthearted farce that stays plenty fun as long as it’s not taken too seriously. The actors do a fine job of keeping up with the show’s breakneck pace, which is essential to making the quick dialogue work and keeping the 1960s gags from feeling dated.
Lynda Clark takes a delightful departure from some of her weightier roles with her acerbic Bertha, oozing French disdain all over the stage and delivering impeccable comedic timing. Likewise, Peggy Taphorn storms onto the stage with enough energy for an entire German Olympic team, and enough charm to pull off an Act 2 plot twist.
Nicki Hart’s Gabriela is an absolute firecracker, bringing enough short-fused passion to her role to make any Sicilian proud. Trish Hamilton’s Gloria is all peaches-and-cream on the surface, but underneath is a cool calculating little minx.
Phillip Powell is, perhaps, a bit too physically stiff in his presentation of Bernard to fully sell the lothario vibe, but he unbends enough in Act 2 to bring plenty of laughs. Steve Moore makes a commendable Robert, both awed and horrified by Bernard’s chaotic life … but not without some opportunistic eagerness for a taste of the action.
Tab May’s scenic design is delightful, with austere walls patterned to suggest a cloud-dotted open sky. It gives the stage a feeling of expansiveness, of opportunity calling — all the more effective as Bernard’s choices begin to come crashing down on him.
Multiple doors are required for all the exits and entrances — sometimes perfectly timed as one fiancé leaves just as the other enters — and add greatly to the comedy. The stage was well-lit, with minimal set pieces (a couple of mod chairs, coffee table, desk and an appropriately situated earth globe), that did enough to convey the time period without getting in the way of the actor’s many hijinks.
The costuming was spot-on, from dapper men’s suits to color-coded stewardess uniforms, to Bertha’s acerbic Parisian style. The audience enjoyed every moment of Bernard’s turbulent romantic fiasco; the show is a direct flight to pure entertainment.
SECOND OPINION: Feb. 13th Sanford, NC Sanford Herald preview by Noah Grant: https://sanfordherald.com/news/2915/it-s-so-entertaining-boeing-boeing-brings-laughs-to-temple-theatre/.
The Temple Theatre of Sanford presents BOEING-BOEING at 2 p.m. Feb. 21, 2 and 7:30 p.m. Feb. 22, 7:30 p.m. Feb. 23, 2 p.m. Feb. 24, 2 p.m. Feb. 28, 2 and 7:30 p.m. March 1, 7:30 p.m. March 2, and 2 p.m. March 3 at 120 Carthage St., Sanford, North Carolina 27330.
TICKETS: $27 ($15 students and $22 Lee County teachers/educator and active-duty military personnel), except $22 per ticket for groups of 10 or more.
BOX OFFICE: 919-774-4155, firstname.lastname@example.org, or https://www.vendini.com/.
GROUP RATES (10+ tickets): 919-774-4155, email@example.com, or http://templeshows.com/ticketinfo/group-packages-sales.
SHOW: https://www.templeshows.com/showsandevents/2018-19/boeing-boeing and https://www.facebook.com/events/312976912656800/.
VIDEO PREVIEWS: https://www.facebook.com/TempleTheatreNC/videos/263298141226372/, https://www.facebook.com/TempleTheatreNC/videos/258934055025192/, and https://www.facebook.com/TempleTheatreNC/videos/250211002548118/.
2018-19 MAINSTAGE SEASON: http://templeshows.com/showsandevents/2018-19.
PRESENTER/VENUE: http://www.templeshows.com/, https://www.facebook.com/TheTempleTheatre, and https://twitter.com/TempleTheatreNC, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Temple_Theatre_(Sanford,_North_Carolina), and https://www.youtube.com/user/templetheatrenc?feature=results_main.
Boeing-Boeing (1960 Paris, 1962 West End, 1965 Broadway, and 2008 Broadway Revival farce): http://www.boeingonbroadway.com/ (website for the Broadway Revival), http://www.boeingboeing.co.uk/ (official U.K. West End website), https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-show/boeing-boeing-2133 (Internet Broadway Database), and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boeing-Boeing_(play) (Wikipedia).
The Script: http://books.google.com/ (Google Books).
Study Guide: https://www.bard.org/study-guides/boeing-boeing-study-guide (Utah Shakespeare Festival).
Marc Camoletti (French playwright, 1923-2003): https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-cast-staff/marc-camoletti-7490 (Internet Broadway Database), http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0131942/ (Internet Movie Database), and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marc_Camoletti_(playwright) (Wikipedia).
Beverley Cross (translator, 1931-98): https://www.curtisbrown.co.uk/client/beverley-cross-1 (Curtis Brown bio), https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-cast-staff/beverley-cross-4529 (Internet Broadway Database), https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0189117/ (Internet Movie Database), and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beverley_Cross (Wikipedia).
Francis Evans (translator): https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-cast-staff/francis-evans-478654 (Internet Broadway Database).
Craig Rhyne (New York City director): https://www.facebook.com/craig.rhyne1 (Facebook page).
Melanie Simmons of Cary, NC is a film and stage actress with a BA degree in Theatre from Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego, CA. She has studied acting with Sande Shurin Acting Studios in New York City and The Actor’s Workshop in Los Angeles, CA; and she now trains locally with Lynda Clark (stage), Daryl Ray Carlisle (film/commercial), and Rebekah Holland (voice). Simmons has performed at Raleigh Little Theatre in Raleigh, Forest Moon Theater in Wake Forest, Stageworks Theatre in Holly Springs, and many others. She is represented by Talent One Agency in Raleigh. Click here to read her reviews for Triangle Review and Triangle Arts and Entertainment.