High Octane Cast Fuels ‘Boeing, Boeing’

Bernard is living the life.  He’s a successful architect, living in Paris and is engaged to not one. . .not two. . .but three gorgeous air hostesses.  With the preciseness of their schedules, Bernard has been able to keep each fiancée oblivious to the others, but when an old childhood friend comes to visit and faster planes and mishaps throw off the hostesses’ schedules, Bernard’s perfect world comes crashing down around him.  This is the plot of Boeing, Boeing, currently playing at the Omaha Community Playhouse.

Boeing, Boeing is the epitome of farce.  Doors constantly opening and closing.  Characters coming and going.  Caricatures, physical comedy, and broad performances.  It takes great acting ability and direction to be so ridiculous and yet maintain a modicum of believability and this cast brings this ability in spades along with the expert direction of Carl Beck.

Anthony Clark-Kaczmarek plays Bernard, the lothario architect.  Ostensibly the straight man of the show, Clark-Kaczmarek’s performance took a little time to get out of the gate.  I suspected that I should dislike this guy.  After all, he’s cavorting around with three women and has no qualms about it.  However, Clark-Kaczmarek’s natural likability seemed to thwart the oiliness of his character at the top of the show.

But once the fiancées start showing up at the same time, Clark-Kaczmarek really revs things up.  With reactions he throws his whole body into and masterful line delivery, Clark-Kaczmarek unleashes an uproariously humorous performance and comes off as a man who is truly going to snap under the pressure of trying to escape from his hilarious predicament.

Monty Eich is absolutely pitch perfect as Robert.  A shy, repressed romantic, Robert has arrived in Paris to visit Bernard and get married himself.  In Eich’s capable hands, Robert comes off as a dithering, stuttering, overly nervous nerd whose clothes would scream if they were any louder.  But Robert isn’t your stereotypical nice guy.  He does have a bit of dog in him as he eagerly pursues Bernard’s German fiancée, Gretchen, after she mistakenly kisses him and engages in a humorous make-out session with Gloria, Bernard’s American fiancée.

Eich is also a master of physical comedy as he falls, slips on chairs, and gets beaten by bags.  His antics practically steal every scene he’s in.  That being said, some of his bits seemed forced into the show as opposed to being organic.

MaryBeth Adams is an utter delight as Berthe, Bernard’s world weary maid.  She’s sarcastic, acerbic, and a pessimist, but, heavens, is she loyal.  Ms Adams’ portrays Berthe as a woman who knows what side her bread is buttered on as she reluctantly, but ably, helps her boss handle the constant comings of his fiancées and caters to their unique tastes in the kitchen.  Despite Berthe’s crusty exterior, Ms Adams successfully injects some humanity into this character’s acidic nature to keep her from being a battleaxe.

Courtney Stein plays Gloria, Bernard’s American fiancée.  Indeed she is the most vapid and shallow of the trio with a philosophy and personality very similar to Robert’s own.  Ms Stein marvelously plays up Gloria’s egoism as she boldly declares that the woman gives the orders in the house and the man’s job is to provide for the mistress whether by choice or court order.  She is a touch on the amoral side as she willingly believes in kissing complete strangers just for practice since there is no emotional connection and clearly values money over love.  Ms Stein’s unbelievable energy truly makes this performance a treat for all.

Jennifer Gilg is Gabriella, Bernard’s Italian fiancée.  Of all the characters in this play, Gabriella is the one most grounded in reality.  Ms Gilg plays this role with just the right touch of hot temper, but this is the one person who truly seems to love Bernard.  She never makes a pass at Robert, capitulates to Bernard’s demands to go out in the country despite not wanting to, and only grows frustrated with Bernard when his peculiar behavior finally drives her to the breaking point.

When Teri Fender enters the play as Gretchen, Bernard’s German fiancée, the energy gets kicked up a few notches.  At first, she seems like she’ll be the nicest of the fiancées, but quickly reveals she’s going to wear the pants in any relationship as she explodes with anger on the turn of a dime when Robert begins to pursue her after a mistaken kiss.  With effortless changes from sweet to tart and a crackling chemistry with Eich, Ms Fender’s performance had audience members rolling in the aisles.

With stellar performances from a brilliant ensemble, steady, sharp, direction, and a beautiful set designed by Jim Othuse, Boeing, Boeing shapes up to be a late season comedic hit.

Boeing, Boeing is performed at the Omaha Community Playhouse, located at 6915 Cass St in Omaha, NE, through May 11.  Performances are Wed-Sat at 7:30pm and Sundays at 2pm.  (Note:  There is no performance on Easter Sunday (April 20)).  Tickets are $35 ($21 for students).  For tickets, contact the Playhouse at 402-553-0800.