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Actors keep comedy aloft at Meadow Brook

By |2018-01-16T14:24:26-05:00January 14th, 2010|Entertainment|

By Martin F. Kohn

If “Boeing-Boeing” seems old-fashioned, it isn’t because door-slamming farces belong in the past or that no one today could ever have three fiancees and keep them unknown to each other. The world will always make room for comedies where important characters just miss seeing each other and recent news accounts tell of a man with three wives (a trigamist?) none of whom had any idea the others existed.
Nope, what makes French playwright Marc Camoletti’s 1965 comedy appear quaint is the notion that air travel was once considered glamorous and relatively easy and that flight attendants were viewed in much the same light.
And lucky Bernard, a swinging American bachelor in Paris, is engaged to three “air hostesses”: Janet, who’s American (and loud); Jacqueline, who’s French (and loud), and Judith, who’s German (and loud). One woman takes off; another lands; the third is somewhere between continents.
It’s a pretty sweet deal for Bernard, but if it goes on indefinitely there won’t be much of a play. Actually, it isn’t much of a play – for a comedy with seven doors (one of them literally swinging) there is surprisingly little door-slamming – but good acting can more than compensate for that, and Travis W. Walter’s Meadow Brook Theatre production has good acting in abundance.
Delivering a delightfully comic performance is Steve Blackwood as Bernard’s old friend Robert, who drops in unexpectedly from Ohio. He sticks around in awe, admiration and, ultimately, consternation, a state Blackwood is a master at portraying, more with his face and body than the words the dramatist provides.
Correspondingly impressive is Karen Sheridan as Bernard’s wry French maid, Bertha, who garners laughs just by widening her eyes or pushing the swinging door.
As Bernard, Christopher Howe gets a lot more animated when he explains his ingenious juggling act than he does discussing the prospect of almost nonstop sex with three attractive women – which seems absolutely right.
As for the latter, they each make a go of it, but for some reason Katie Hardy (Janet), Julianne Somers (Jacqueline) and Stephanie Wahl (Judith) have been directed to overact and talk really loud. Bernard may see them as interchangeable, but the audience should not.
Costume designer Liz Moore has dressed each in a snappy and stylish uniform of a different primary color: red for Janet, blue for Jacqueline, yellow for Judith.
Sound designer Mike Duncan has rustled up some French versions of American pop tunes for atmosphere between scenes; set designer Brian Kessler has provided a bright and airy apartment for all those goings on, and the place wouldn’t be bright without Reid G. Johnson’s lighting.
And if you wonder why the program has a choreography credit (for Wahl) stick around for the curtain call, one of the best in recent memory.

Meadow Brook Theatre, 2200 N. Squirrel Rd., Rochester. Wednesday-Sunday through Jan. 31. $30-$39. 248-377-3300.

About the Author:

BTL Staff
Between The Lines has been publishing LGBTQ-related content in Southeast Michigan since the early '90s. This year marks the publication's 27th anniversary.