In 2008, Coyote StageWorks co-founder and Artistic Director, Chuck Yates caught a performance of “Boeing-Boeing” on Broadway, which went on to win the Tony for Best Revival of a Play that year. The sex romp originally written in 1960 by French writer Marc Camoletti, tickled Yates’ funny-bone so much that he made copious notes and filed the comedy-farce in his back pocket as a future candidate for his own fledgling theatre that he and co-founders Alan Denny, David Engle, and Larry Raben were planning to open in Palm Springs, California.
Three years later, and several Desert Theatre League (DTL) wins and honors under their belts, the professional group of Equity performers brings “Boeing-Boeing”, the classic comedy-farce to the stage of the Annenberg Theatre, for a “five performance only” run, beginning February 16th.
Starring in the English translation version by Beverly Cross and Francis Evans, and directed by James Gruessing are: David Engle as Bernard, an American lothario living and working in Paris, Larry Raben as Robert, his old school buddy who unexpectedly drops in to visit, Tracy Lore as Bertha, Bernard’s trusty and crusty housekeeper, and the sexy girls of the ‘Swingin’ 60’s – all airline flight attendants with international carriers: Evie Hutton as Gloria, a Texas cutie, complete with twang and all, who flies for TWA, Suzanne-Elyse Choplin as the sultry Gabriella, who flies for Al Italia, and Elaine Hayhurst as Gretchen, the oh-so-loving Lufthansa flight attendant with a penchant for frankfurters, sauerkraut, and Bernard, but not necessarily in that order.
The comedy revolves around the love-life of Bernard (a smooth debonair Engle) who juggles his affairs with three airline hostesses, keeping each unaware of the other (with the help and patience of his housekeeper Bertha (Lore)), until his old school buddy Robert (a wonderfully comic Raben), unexpectedly drops by to visit and stay with him for awhile.
Robert is intrigued by his friend’s ability to keep everything in order when it comes to romancing three different women at the same time. How does he do it? According to Bernard it’s merely a matter of timing. “It all boils down to juggling timetables and a reliable housekeeper who never forgets to change the photographs”. Well, it’s a little more involved than that, and when Boeing introduces its latest super fast version of its 707 model, those tight schedules all neatly worked out by Bernard and Bertha, become impossible, at times, to control…its time to let the fun begin.
I caught a dress rehearsal with Yates, and was treated to a frenetically paced and hilariously performed comedy that just zips along and should please even the most hardened anti-farce theatre patron. In short, it’s cotton candy for the eyes and ears. It’s a fun show and it’s full of sheer entertainment.
Yates mentions that the transition from the stage at the Norris Theatre in Palos Verdes in the Los Angeles area (where the same cast and set just finished a three week run, in association with the Norris theatre) to the stage of the Annenberg “has been a piece of cake thanks to the wonderfully dedicated technical crew at the Annenberg, headed by Stage Manager Chris Murry”. He adds, “The management and crew of the Annenberg has made us feel so welcome, and have been so helpful, I’m afraid to exhale until the run is over.”
Tickets sales have been brisk and seats are selling fast. Performances are given on Thursday, February 16th at 7:30 pm, Friday, February 17th, at 7:30 pm, Saturday, February 18th at 2 pm and again at 7:30 pm, and Sunday, February 19th at 2 pm. For reservations and ticket information call the box office at 760-325-4490 or go online to www.psmuseum.org .