Boeing Boeing

By Marc Camoletti (Translated by Beverley Cross and Francis Evans)
Directed by Lee Buckholz
Reviewed by Craig Nolan Highley
Entire contents are copyright © 2012, Craig Nolan Highley. All rights reserved.

Pictured from left to right are Sara King as Gretchen,
Melissa Carlile-Price as Gloria, Megan Bliss as Gabriella
and Tyler Bliss as Bernard in
 Boeing Boeing
With their latest production, the classic sixties sex farce Boeing Boeing, Derby Dinner Playhouse has provided me with the most fun I’ve had watching a play in years. Well-acted by a strong cast, and directed with precision by Lee Buckholz, I was belly-laughing fifteen minutes in and didn’t get relief until after the final bows. It just doesn’t get better than this, folks!
Right when you first enter the theater you can tell you are in for something special just by taking in the sight of John Witzke’s absolutely gorgeous set. Designed to represent a thoroughly “mod” swinger’s apartment circa 1969, it truly appears you have walked in to a bachelor’s dream pad.
The story plays out like any given episode of Three’s Company. Young, handsome Bernard (Tyler Bliss) is living the life in his swanky Paris apartment, courting three different fiancées with the reluctant help of his put-upon housekeeper Berthe (Tina Jo Wallace). And by way of some ingenious planning, all three love interests are international flight attendants who never land in Paris at the same time. He reveals his scheming to his envious friend Robert (R. Joseph Price), who quickly wants in on the action. As the rules of farce dictate, over the course of one fateful day, all hell breaks loose when all three fiancées (Melissa Carlile-Price as American Gloria, Megan Bliss as Italian Gabriella and Sara King as German Gretchen) come home the same evening. Chaos, hilarity and a lot of door-slamming ensue.
The play is such a classic that it has been revived countless times since its 1960 Paris, 1962 London and 1965 Broadway debuts, and spawned no less than four film versions (one French, one American, one Malayalam and one Hindi).
I have never seen the 1965 film, arguably the most popular version, which starred Tony Curtis and Jerry Lewis as Bernard and Robert, respectively. But I can’t imagine that Curtis and Lewis were any better in the roles than Bliss and Price are here. Bliss takes Bernard from a rather unlikable, buttoned-up, conceited pretty boy at the top of the show to a completely lovable basket case by show’s end, showing a strong predilection for physical comedy that recalls Steve Martin at his best. Price gives what is probably the show’s best performance as Robert, creating a lovable schlub who almost takes the complete opposite course to Bernard, becoming a stronger and obviously more devious character as the play progresses.
The show’s ladies are all well cast by strong actresses as well. Wallace’s Berthe brings to mind The Incredibles’ Edna Mode character with her mix of style and sass. Carlile-Price’s Gloria is a strange mixture of blissful innocence and raw sex appeal; while Megan Bliss’s Gabriella is a creation Sonia Braga and Sophia Loren would envy. But the show’s complete standout performance goes to King’s Gretchen. A stereotype if there ever was one, King gives the character her all, literally throwing her whole body into the larger-than-life character with nothing short of complete brilliance.
Just an incredible cast all around!
A special mention has to be made for Heather Paige Folsom’s staging of the curtain call, an energetic number almost as entertaining as the show that preceded it. Unexpected, to say the least, but welcome all the same; very well done.
This is very likely the most fun I’ve had at Derby Dinner in years Kudos to all involved. Don’t miss it!

Boeing Boeing

Starring Megan Bliss, Tyler Bliss, Melissa Carlile-Price, Sara King, R. Joseph Price and Tina Jo Wallace

January 10 – February 19, 2012

Derby Dinner Playhouse
525 Marriott Drive
Clarksville, IN 47129
Tickets (812) 288-8281