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Coffee, Tea or All Three in Flighty Farce at Mason Street

By |2012-08-23T09:00:00-04:00August 23rd, 2012|Entertainment, Theater|

By Sue Merrell

As the French maid says, “it isn’t easy” to juggle three fiances – but, oh, is it ever funny in “Boeing- Boeing,” the latest production of Mason Street Warehouse.
A boisterous audience of about 300 gathered for Friday’s opening performance, laughing often and loudly, even if most didn’t seem to have the energy for a standing ovation at curtain call. Marc Camoletti’s 1962 farce is a six-door slammer, with plenty of witty dialogue and double entendre to sweeten the physical comedy. Revisiting the attitudes and fashions of the ’60s is like a cherry on top.
This is the tale of debonair Bernard (Sean Allan Krill), an American living in Paris, who is engaged to three airline stewardesses. Ordinarily he manages to keep his international harem separated with close attention to the flight schedule. But when the weather causes flight cancelations and delays, the three women are all “home” at the same time. It’s up to Bernard, his visiting friend Robert (Harry Bouvy) and maid Berthe (Kate Young) to distract the women as they flirt with collision in the bedroom, bath and living room.
What sets this farce apart from other door slammers is the hilarious personalities created for each of the fiances. Gretchen (Kayla Peabody), the domineering German, is the most outrageous, or “intense” as the maid describes her. She mistakes Robert for her fiance, and spends the rest of the play bouncing back and forth between love and hate, like a crazed cuckoo announcing the hour. Gloria (Amanda Ryan Paige) is the quirky American with a taste for unusual food combinations and a pragmatic attitude toward marrying for money or kissing for purely “technical” proficiency. Paige adds some delightful moves to accent Gloria’s kissing prowess. Gabriella (Kathryn Merry) is the possessive Italian who demands Bernard’s full attention and is sexy enough to get it.
The stereotypes are as glaring as the red, blue and yellow color coding of their costumes, but like a mod geometric painting the effect is pleasing.
Young gives an endearing performance as the frustrated maid, changing the menu and the decor to match the fiance of the moment. Bouvy is great as the loyal high school chum, using all sorts of contortions to warn Bernard about the woman behind door number three. Krill’s smile is almost electric in the beginning as Bernard is successfully charming three different women. When chaos ensues, his reaction is a near total blackout.
Director Kathryn Markey has set a good pace, with leisurely moments for enjoying witty repartee and timely punches of panic. The presentation is polished with an impressive set (designer Jon Reeves), ’60s music in French (sound designer Randy Hoekstra) and believable color-coordinated costumes and accessories for TWA, Lufthansa and Air Italia (costume designer Darlene Veenstra.)
Even with three beautiful women in miniskirts, and sometimes no more than a bath towel, “Boeing-Boeing” isn’t really a sexy romp. Instead it’s a playful adventure that never really touches on intimacy or the pain of unfaithful behavior. It’s all broad strokes and bold stereotypes, a splash of silliness with a happy, satisfying ending.

Mason Street Warehouse at Saugatuck Center for the Arts, 400 Culver St., Saugatuck. Tuesday-Sunday through Sept. 2. $26-$39.75. 269-857-2399.

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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.