As the semester ends and students and professors are counting down the days until summer break arrives, the curtain fell on Byrum stage with its final performance of the season.
The musical theatre department could not have gone out with a louder bang.
The cast of “Boeing Boeing” deserves nothing short of the standing ovation that was given by the audience on opening night.
“Boeing Boeing” is a 1960s French play written by Marc Camoletti and translated by Beverley Cross and Francis Evans. The comedy is centered around a bachelor in Paris, Bernard, played by Samuel Lynch. Bernard has managed to get engaged to three flight attendants, each from a different country.
“As an architect, Bernard has developed a certainty that comes from years of perfecting mathematical precision and risk taking,” Lynch elaborates on Bernard’s character.
Bernard relies on the airline schedule to ensure that his three internationally traveling fiancées remain ships in the night, never crossing paths in Paris at the same time.
Bernard has lived his polygamous lifestyle with seemingly little complication thanks to his unenthused French maid, Berthe, played by Brittany Davis, who does not appreciate the ever-increasing work of maintaining a household in accordance to Bernard’s three mistresses’ expectations.
Bernard’s bachelor dream threatens to collapse when a case of bad luck and changing airline schedules bring all three fiancées to his Parisian flat on the same weekend. Circumstances are made all the more hectic and complicated for Bernard when his old friend, Robert, played by Conner Thompson, shows up unexpectedly from America. The awkward and naïve wingman tries to help his friend juggle his complicated romances and even manages to take a page from Bernard’s womanizing book.
“The best part about playing Robert is the tremendous sense of awkwardness I can explore onstage,” Thompson reflects on his role. “The lack of confidence and presence found in Robert is a harsh change to the other roles I have played this year. Not being afraid to be awkward onstage to the point of endeavoring to do so is a new kind of character that I can’t stop enjoying so much.”
Though the cast is made up of only six people, there is no shortage of character.The three fiancées, Gloria, Gabriella and Gretchen—played by Lauren Schaffter, Abigail Simmon and Pia Gossweiler—are as loud and bold as the primary colors they are each assigned.
“Boeing Boeing” is a never-ceasing shouting and slamming of doors. The two-and-a-half-hour production is only slowed down by Berthe’s unhurried demeanor and unmasked side-eye glares.
“Berte acts as a foil to everyone in the show,” Davis comments. “Berthe has seen it all. She is over it. She does not want these ladies coming in and out of her house all the time. One fiancée is American, one is German and one is Italian, so she has to cook different food for them. She has to change the apartment around for them to match their expectations. Berthe just wants all the nonsense to stop.”
The comedy had the audience laughing and unsure of what could possibly go wrong next. Much like Bernard’s take on polygamy, the play has no shortage of pleasure and variety and is absolutely fabulous.
AU’s production of “Boeing Boeing” was directed by Rick Vale who lives in Anderson, Indiana. Vale has worked as a studio and concert singer, songwriter, composer, stage director, actor, artistic director of The Alley Theatre Company and board chair of the Anderson Symphony Orchestra.
“‘Boeing Boeing’ came as a surprise to all of us,” said Lynch. “However, the message we’ve been hearing all year is ‘Have fun with it!’ I believe that message was a core part of why this production was chosen. It serves as a reminder that we need to let loose every once in a while. As a result we’re constantly looking for new ways to entertain our audience.”