The Little Theatre of Alexandria is presenting the non-stop comedy, “Boeing, Boeing,” now through May 24. Set in a 1965 Paris apartment on the same day, the classic farce written by French playwright Marc Camoletti is centered on Bernard, a swinging architect engaged to three flight attendants all at once.
Bernard’s life goes haywire when his friend Robert comes to visit and a newer, speedier Boeing jet messes up all of his careful planning. Inevitably, all three stewardesses come to visit at the same time, but the ending’s not what you’d expect.
In 1965, “Boeing, Boeing” was made into a little-known film starring Jerry Lewis and Tony Curtis. In 1991, the play was listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the most performed French play throughout the world. This LTA version is beautifully directed by Roland Branford Gomez and produced by Jim Howard and Robert Kraus.
Joshua Rich, of Centreville, plays the lead role of Bernard who juggles the trio of flight attendants who are all engaged to him. “He’s kind of a Playboy type and I think he respects women, but he’s also trying to take advantage of them,” said Rich. “He’s confident and almost kind of brash because he’s beat the system.”
Above all, Rich said he hopes that audiences will be entertained with its happy ending. He said, “It’s a very funny play and it’s very professional, so I think people will be treated to an entertaining night at the theater.”
Actor Patrick Doneghy, who plays the friend Robert and carries most of the play, is a classic fish-out-of-water who is a bit naïve but a genuinely good person who is ready to fall in love and get married. “Over the course of 24 hours he learns that he is able to handle a great deal of stress and different situations better than he ever thought he could,” said Doneghy.
He added, “Some of the challenges of working on a farce are getting to know and trust your fellow actors enough so that your timing and reactions can be so well in sync that it seems effortless.”
Margaret Bush plays the loyal French housekeeper named Berthe who knows about her boss Bernard’s philandering and works hard to accommodate his complex schedule. She describes her character as overworked, underappreciated, very opinionated and downright confrontational at times. “I’m the one who has to do all the work behind-the-scenes of this extremely complicated household, so I tend to be a bit grumpy,” she said.
Her challenge was speaking with a French accent that was both believable and intelligible as well as fully fleshing out the character and balancing the demands of accurately portraying her while navigating the complexities of comedy.
“I hope audiences appreciate the quality of the writing…” she said. “The collaborative effort that goes into a production of this nature, and the gratitude that those of us on the stage feel for those who are not on the stage who make it all possible behind the scenes.”
Katie Doyle plays the role of Gloria, a cheerful American flight attendant. “She is very independent and knows how to get what she wants,” said Doyle. “She has very strong viewpoints on the world.”
She said, “I don’t want to give spoiler alerts, but I will say her viewpoints on love are very practical — she is very smart and uses her assets to get what she needs.”
Her challenge was working with her somewhat controversial character. She added, “There are definitely some people who may not love some of my character’s actions, and I had to work hard to keep her an endearing character.”
Jennifer Patton plays the zany role of Gretchen, the German stewardess. “Gretchen is sweet, earnest, a little naïve, and slightly unhinged,” said Patton. “She’s from a small town, and her job with Lufthansa is definitely her first chance to see the world, so her struggle to balance her upbringing with the situations in the play comes through in some pretty hilarious ways.”
Her challenge has been the physicality of the role. “In a lot of cases, Gretchen has been played by a tall woman, but I’m only 5-foot-2. My Gretchen is a short girl who doesn’t know she’s short, and that has been a lot of fun to develop.”
Patton said, “I hope the audience has as much fun watching it as we had working on it.”
Gabriela Coro plays the sassy Italian stewardess also named Gabriela who oozes with attitude. “She wants her life to be full of passion, and you can tell from the way she interacts with the other characters,” she said. “Everything she does comes from a place of emotion.”
She added, “Unfortunately for her fiancée, her default emotion is usually aggression.”
She said that her challenge was mastering the Italian accent. “I wanted it to sound real and comfortable on stage, because if the audience couldn’t believe it, then they wouldn’t believe anything else about my character either.”
Regarding the reception from the play, she said, “Everyone involved with the play has been so grateful for all the support from the community, and we hope the people of Alexandria are proud of the productions we put on.”
“Boeing, Boeing” is playing through May 24 at The Little Theatre of Alexandria, 600 Wolfe Street. Show times are Wednesdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m.; and Sundays at 3 p.m. Visit www.thelittletheatre.com or call 703-683-0496.