Jet-age hilarity takes center stage in Community Players’ ‘Boeing Boeing’
From left: Jim Webber, Stephen Lajoie, Katherine Proulx, Kathy Aiello and Chris Demers rehearse for “Boeing Boeing.” Cheri Birch and Paula Mitchell Demers sit in front.
Katherine Proulx, plays “Gabriella” the Alitalia Airlines air hostess in “Boeing Boeing.”
An iron sword guard with pierced dragon made by the The Echizen Kinai School of the late 1600s is one of several sword guards on display at the Currier Museum of Art in Manchester's exhibit "Lethal Beauty." The exhibit features samurai art, weapons and armor and will be shown until May 5.
An early nineteenth century face mask peers out at visitors to the Currier Museum of Art in Manchester's exhibit "Lethal Beauty." The exhibit features samurai art, weapons and armor and will be shown from now until May 5.
Photographed on Wednesday, February 13, 2013.
ALEXANDER COHN / Monitor staff
FILE - In this Jan. 10, 2013 file photo, Quvenzhane Wallis is seen backstage with her award for best young actress for "Beasts of the Southern Wild," at the 18th Annual Critics' Choice Movie Awards at the Barker Hangar in Santa Monica, Calif. Wallis is an actress of talent, poise and maturity well beyond her years. She was 6 when she played the part of Hushpuppy, and at only 9, she is the youngest-ever best actress nominee at the Academy Awards. (Photo by John Shearer/Invision/AP, File)
If you’re planning to board Boeing Boeing, Jim Webber has a bit of advice: “Check your ‘PC’ bags at the door.”
The ’60s-era French comedy, which opens tomorrow night at the Concord City Auditorium, is a riotous romp filled with period details and taut with comic suspense. Think Mad Men meets I Love Lucy. As such, it’s not exactly politically correct.
“This was before the feminist revolution, before the sexual revolution. I’m sure in the early ’60s it had a naughty quality,” said Webber director of the show, a Concord Community Players production. “Now it just seems giggly silly. We’ve given it kind of a cartoonish, exaggerated feel, which makes it really fun.”
Boeing Boeing, which was written in 1960 but didn’t take flight in the U.S. until a new version was brought to Broadway in 2008, tells the story of an American bachelor trying to juggle three fiancées. All are international flight attendants and all end up at his Paris apartment one evening, leaving him, his maid and his unsophisticated college chum to keep the empire from crumbling.
No, it’s not exactly a box-of-chocolates love story. But in its own way, it celebrates the exquisite power of women. “The women really hold all the cards,” Webber said. “They may not hold all the information, but because the men are so in awe of them, these men live in fear of them finding out.
The two of them are shaking like leaves in the last half of the show.”
It’s also great fun anticipating the tomcatting bachelor’s comeuppance. “You see things coming, and you can’t wait for the train to crash,” Webber said.
Webber, who works primarily as a set designer and has directed two other Community Players productions, first saw Boeing Boeing during its Tony-winning Broadway run. “It was wild and crazy. It was really fun,” he said.
When he heard the Community Players were doing it, he jumped at the chance to direct it. Webber also designed the set for the play, applying the same caricatured quality that defines the action. He asked a friend who used to work as a Disney animator to draw a cartoonish version of the Eiffel tower, which he and the crew blew up and painted. The apartment is a classic Paris bachelor pad in an old Parisian building. “It has that go-go quality to it,” Webber said.
The costumes, too, are a blast. All of the women wear wigs, styled to the hilt by a well-known wig stylist in Portsmouth. “It gives it a little theatrical punch,” Webber said. “It totally, immediately identifies the 1960s and the style of the period.”
Webber doesn’t take all the credit for the quality of the production. He says the Community Players are known for bringing excellence to community theater, thanks to dedicated members and the luxury of having their own studio to build sets and work on props. “The players seem to have a very substantial core group of people who stick with the group and are available to help with whatever the group may need,” he said. “Because of that you have a lot more resources to draw from in terms of manpower.”
Ahem, and women power.
Boeing Boeing will play at the Concord City Auditorium tomorrow and Saturday night at 8 and Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets are $14-$17 and can be purchased at communityplayersofconcord.com or by calling 228-2793.