by DICK KEREKES & LEISLA SANSOM
There has been a lot of laughter at 11 Old Mission Street in St. Augustine since October 26 when Limelight Theatre opened Marc Camoletti’s comedy farce “Boeing Boeing.” Want to join in the hilarity? Call 904-825-1164or visit their website www.limelight-theatre.org.
“Boeing Boeing” has a very interesting history. This French farce opened in Paris in 1960 and played there for nineteen years. Since the British reportedly love sex farces, it soon opened in London and played for six years. Its first trip to the USA was in 1965, where it ended after 23 performances in nineteen days. Why? That long ago, perhaps Americans weren’t ready for a play about an American bachelor living in Paris who has three mistresses at the same time. Perhaps it was poorly cast or poorly directed. Who knows?
In 2008 a very savvy British Director, Matthew Warchus (“God of Carnage” & “Norman Conquests”), revived it and won a Tony for best revival, while British actor Mark Rylance won a Tony for best supporting actor. It ran a very respectable 279 performances and has becoming a darling of regional and community theatres.
Selecting Orlando Director Gary Cadwallader as the director was certainly a coup for Limelight but then he has directed a number of outstanding plays there. The Dual Critics remember seeing the results of his talented directing and his on-stage performances for many years at Daytona’s Seaside Music Theatre.
Mr. Cadwallander has certainly done a masterful bit of casting with Boeing Boeing. Allyn Dennis is marvelously animated as Bernard, the handsome architect who is seeing three gorgeous stewardesses from three different airlines, all thinking they are engaged to him. We have only seen Mr. Dennis previously in “Cat on a Hot Roof” and “Duck Hunter Shoots Angel,” and are impressed at how he has expanded his acting talents.
The characters in Boeing Boeing must fit together like pieces of a puzzle for it to work and the second piece fits perfectly. Kelly Rossberg, a newcomer to this area, plays the somewhat nerdy old friend of Bernard who arrives in Paris just to visit with extraordinary timing complete with exceptional body language. And we just loved the gentle Swedish accent.
The women, Ooh La La, outstanding. Hannah Morgan dressed in TWA red, with those oh, so kissable lips stained with striking red lipstick. Gisella Nieto as Gabriella; nothing like getting a real Italian beauty to play an Italian dressed in lovely Alitalia blue. Cathy O’Brien as Gretchen, Lufthansa’s representative in the friendly skies, had one the funniest roles, as she portrayed a stereotypically forceful German beauty. When she talked (often shouted), everyone listened and we noticed even the audience sat up a little straighter!!!
Bernard’s traffic controller, responsible for making sure the girls won’t ever encounter each other, is the balky and dead-pan housekeeper Berthe, extraordinary played in a hilarious performance by Beth Lambert. Ms. Lambert, is kept very busy as Executive Director of Limelight, but occasionally finds the time to do a role and she excels in comedy.
Kudos to Set and Lighting Designer Tom Fallon. The set is gorgeous and truly elegant and fitting for the romantic Bernard and his ladies. Costumer Lorraine Rokovitz has also done a terrific job with the retro costumes. Besides playing the role of Gretchen, Cathy O’Brien was stage manager assisted by Mandy Marconi.
If you love to laugh, you are going to love this show, which has lots of slamming doors and a cast with precision timing.
by DICK KEREKES & LEISLA SANSOM