By Sue Langenberg
Show number four “Boeing Boeing” opened last night at Timber Lake Playhouse. The show follows record-setting musical “Footloose” that added a performance by popular demand. After three musicals this season, the summer stock theatre changes gears to a hilarious and fast-paced comedy. Artistic director Jim Beaudry, cast, crew and audience are on a roll now!
“Boeing Boeing” is a French farce, classic with the slamming doors and all. In fact, the moment you walk into the theatre, you count the doors, a total of seven at this TLP production. Comments all around were such that one knew that there would be lots of slamming action.
The farce was written by playwright Marc Camoletti in the early ‘60s and by 1991 was listed as Guinness Book of Records’ most performed French play in the world. In 2008, it won a Tony award for Best Revival of a Play.
For this TLP production, guest director Derek Bertleson returns with his most familiar work to achieve precision timing after “Love, Sex and the IRS” of 2010. He was keenly able to get choreographic moves, tableaus and expressions that seemed to say “whiz” with each gesture. Some of his other credits include Chicago work with Goodman Theatre assisting Chuck Smith in David Mamet’s RACE and directing, among others, “Into the Woods,” a show that deserves more attention.
Most entertaining about the classic farce is the total ridiculousness of a plot, rather than the development of a character. The characters are already in place, conflicting by their very nature and thrown at each other with predictable incongruence – a major ingredient of comedy. In this play, six characters are completely at odds with each other by their very entrances and dialogue. A suave bachelor with an awkward womanless friend – the recipe for many famous comedy duos; Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, Laurel and Hardy, for example.
So with all the doors slamming, you might guess that there is suspicious behavior at each entrance and exit with many shocks in between. Lead character Bernard is the suave and confirmed Parisian bachelor who has an efficient schedule of three flight hostess women who are scheduled to appear according to their exact flight schedule. He is “engaged” to all three, but does not account for inclement weather, schedule changes and perhaps that Boeing might have invented a faster plane.
Bernard is played by Brandon Jess Ford, a TLP frequent flyer whose many credits include “West Side Story,” “Sunset Boulevard,” and “Children of Eden.” As some generations of actors emulate others, it might be noted that Ford was well-cast for this role because of his image and agility like Rob Petrie in “The Dick Van Dyke Show” of the ‘60s.
Awkward best friend Robert is on hand to wish and wonder about all these women that he perceives he will never have, until the tide turns in the second act. Dryden Meints plays the part well with his rubbery grimaces and astonished reactions. The three women clash as a perfect storm of dysfunction. American gal Janet by Kelly Krauter was delightfully squeaky-voiced as she minced from scenes through doors, French Jacqueline by Hanah Nardone nearly sang her soprano dialogue with campy vibrato and German Judith by Erica Stephan was passionate and overbearing.
All shenanigans of ill-timed comings and goings are to the chagrin of housekeeper Bertha who takes to task keeping everyone straight and organized against each other’s discovery. Analisha Santini is the strong presence of Bertha as she insults her way through every scene while being driven to drink, much like the formidable wife of Tito Merelli in “Lend Me a Tenor.”
“Boeing Boeing\” continues Friday July 20 and runs through Saturday July 26 at Timber Lake Playhouse. Tuesday through Saturday evening shows at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Sunday, Wednesday matinees at 2 p.m. (No matinee July 26). The Mt. Carroll boonies are a hop, skip and a jump to 8215 Black Oak Road. Call the box office at (815) 244-2035 or firstname.lastname@example.org for tickets, group rates and more information.