Super talented cast delivers fantastic rendition of famed comedy

Considering that the entire performance takes place inside Parisian bachelor Bernard’s apartment, the Breckenridge Backstage Theatre’s adaptation of this famous farce is action-packed, highly entertaining and constantly building with comical suspense from the first scene to the spectacular, quirky climax. Directed by the theater’s new artistic director Nathan Autrey, it’s well worth a trip to snowy Breck this winter to check it out.

Based on the 1962 satire by French playwright Marc Camoletti — alleged to have been performed on global stages more than any other French production in history — “Boeing Boeing” follows the amusing philandering of Bernard, an architect in Paris who is juggling three fiancées. Each woman is a flight attendant representing an airline from her respective home country: Gloria from New York works for TWA, Gretchen from Germany flies with Lufthansa and Italian Gabriella with Alitalia.

The play opens with Bernard (Benjamin Lee Stanford) and Gloria (Shelby Wane) sitting at the breakfast table, Gloria in her house robe carrying on enthusiastically in her pointed New York accent about how delightful it will be to be married and thus able to spend much more time together in “their” Parisian apartment. However, the meal must move quickly because Gloria has a flight to catch in a couple of hours when, unbeknownst to her, Gabriella is scheduled to arrive for lunch.

Throughout the breakfast, Bernard’s French housekeeper Berthe (Marine d’Aoure) delivers and removes dishes making snide remarks in her impeccable French accent (the actress hails from Versailles). We quickly learn that the reason for this attitude is her frustration with keeping the apartment and meal schedule up to speed with the continuous rotation of Bernard’s international harem.

Before Gloria departs after breakfast, Bernard’s college friend Robert makes an unexpected visit from Wisconsin. Sporting an unwavering Midwestern accent and a sheepish, loveable personality, Robert (Billy Nugent) is new to Paris and seeking guidance from his friend. Bernard invites him to stay at the apartment and after Robert says hello and goodbye to Gloria and gushes over how well Bernard has done by landing such a woman, Bernhard informs him of his polygamous lifestyle. He opens a secret chart outlining each woman’s flight schedule, boasting about the precise organization required of conducting such a complex juggling act. Robert listens slack-jawed, wondering if it’s not slightly immoral to mislead the three women in such a way, having each believe she is Bernard’s one and only betrothed.

Meanwhile, Berthe is grumpily removing evidence of the previous visitor, changing the decorations for Gabriella’s impending lunch visit and attempting to plan a frankfurter dinner for Gretchen’s evening arrival.

Gabriella (Prather Rehm) soon enters the set, similarly clad in 1960s era flight attendant uniform, carrying her Alitalia hand bag and surprisingly (and presumably unscripted) sporting a knee brace, explaining in a punchy Italian accent that there was “dis ski accident on dis Imperial Bowl.” Like Gloria, Gabriella is courteous and charming toward the new houseguest (each woman has a key to Bernard’s apartment and believes she lives there) and Robert is, in kind, quite taken with her. After she leaves and Bernard disappears to run an errand, Berthe and Robert help themselves to Bernard’s liquor supply and launch into a candid discussion about the situation.

It isn’t long before the exuberant Gretchen (Casey Bradley) arrives unexpectedly early, the other two women’s flight schedules are suddenly altered due to unforeseen circumstances and cleverly wrought chaos ensues. Bernard’s carefully structured façade as a one-woman man begins to crumble as Robert and Berthe flounder to keep it from toppling over.

Featuring an incredibly talented New York City-based cast, this small town theater production delivers an evening of bright wit and constant laughs, more than worthy of a Broadway stage.