By Daniel Skora
It’s not often you find a man who can have his cake and eat it too. Bernard is an affluent architect living in Paris. He’s got a fabulous apartment and contact with an insider at the International Airport. The apartment has provided him with a comfortable and stylish lifestyle. The insider has provided him with easy access to the loveliest of airline hostesses, as stewardesses were called back in the 60’s. The stewardesses are more than willing to accept his overtures for wining and dining, some eventually saying yes to become his fiancée. Business has been good of late; he’s currently engaged to three.
Tipping Point Theatre is presenting the perennial favorite “Boeing Boeing”. The farce was written by French playwright Marc Camoletti (translation by Beverly Cross and Francis Evans) and first performed in 1962. It has become a classic who’s-next-through-the-door comedy. Tipping Point’s production is a hilarious romp featuring six superbly talented cast members who really know how to draw out the laughs.
Bernard (David Bendena) is able to keep three women on a string not only because they are employed by different airlines, but because his little black book of flight schedules has enabled him to never have more than one of his lovelies at hand at any one time. Assisting him in his romantic charade is his housekeeper Berthe (Nancy Penvose).
If variety is the spice of life, Bernard is truly a well-seasoned man. And it appears he may also be the first of his gender to have a G-spot. There’s Gloria (Dani Cochrane), the brash and liberated American who works for TWA. Gabriella (Maggie Meyer) is your typically passionate and determined Italian woman who works for Alitalia. And Gretchen (Hallie Bee Bard) is a domineering and verbose German working for Lufthansa.
Bernard’s juggling act has been working out nicely, often allowing him to have breakfast with one of his ladies, lunch with another, and an evening of fun and frolic with the third. All the while, the other two are safely off flying those friendly skies. But that arrangement may soon be coming to an end. Robert (Aral Gribble), an old friend from Wisconsin, just happens to be in Paris and drops by to say hello. Bernard feels a bit sorry for his friend, who appears to be going nowhere with the ladies, and proudly tells him about his system. Robert’s interest having been peaked, Bernard asks him to move in and observe the master.
There’s a new bird in the sky as well, and it’s flying faster than any has done before. The Super jet is cutting down on flight time so much that Bernard’s guests for breakfast, lunch, or dinner may soon be overlapping with disastrous results.
Besides the hysterics involved in trying to make sure none of the fiancées run into each other, “Boeing Boeing” covers some cultural peculiarities of the times as well. The play’s romantic shenanigans are indicative of the bourgeoning sexual liberties of the 1960’s, though here they come off as more nice than naughty. In addition, the play addresses some of the stereotypical differences of the several nationalities represented in the play. Food also plays an important part, with Berthe routinely expected to serve up dishes representative of the native country of each of the women.
Frequent theatergoers will have undoubtedly crossed paths with “Boeing Boeing” before. It’s a fun play that can be seen time and again. And with each presentation being done with different actors and a different technical staff, each production becomes its own unique take on the same original material. The Tipping Point’s production, directed by Dave Davies, a local favorite who’s been making audiences laugh for years, features a superb cast with exceptional comedic talents. A special shout out goes to Hallie Bee Bard, who claims the biggest chunk of attention every time she’s on stage as Gretchen, a woman to be loved, feared, and laughed at all in the same breath,
One image those other productions of “Boeing Boeing” have left in my mind is of a set that reflects the affluence of its owner. For a wealthy man living in the most expensive real estate market in Paris, Bernard’s apartment here looks like just another mod flat from the sixties. At one point, Robert has occasion to look out over the city while commenting on the spectacular view of Paris. At that moment he is looking up at a blank spot on the wall. I couldn’t help but recall the beautiful portrait of a Paris cityscape clearly visible through the window of a set of one of those other productions I’d seen, the Eifel Tower looming majestically in the distance.
The show’s stylish red, green and blue stewardess outfits were designed by Suzanne Young. Set design is by Lisa Borton, lighting by Don W. Baschal, and sound by Sonja Marquis. Properties are by Rebecca Godwin, who also serves as House Manager for the production. Dialect coach for those enchanting Italian and German accents is Christopher Corporandy. Tracy L. Spada is resident stage manager, assisted by Kelli Dugan.
“Boeing Boeing” runs through October 22nd. Tickets are available online at www.tippingpointtheatre.com or by visiting or calling the theatre’s Box Office at 1.248.347.0003 between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Mon. through Fri. or 90 minutes prior to all performances, based on availability. Tipping Point Theatre is located at 361 E. Cady Street in Northville.