Who knew that before Craigslist, a playboy’s best tool was the OAG?
French Playwright Marc Camoletti, that’s who.
The Official Airline Guide (OAG for short), necessary companion to anyone who’s even moderately traveled for business, upstages even “SNL” alumnae Nora Dunn in “Boeing Boeing,” Drury Lane Theatre’s summer slapstick.
The well-traveled play made its London debut in 1962, came to Broadway first in 1965 and celebrated many revivals, most recently on the Great White Way in 2008. It’s a single-set farce taking place in the Paris flat of an American expat (Bernard) juggling his international harem of three flight attendants, each believing she’s his sole fiancée.
Bernard’s nervous chum from Wisconsin (Robert) arrives to witness his braggart lothario pal’s undoing when (go figure) airline delays having nothing to do with sequester-induced TSA layoffs ensue. Predictably, the three fiancées end up “home” at the same time, permitting Bernard (Stef Tovar) and Robert (Dan Cantor) to fret while Parisian housekeeper Berthe (Dunn) makes with the wisecracks.
A full history and synopsis, including information on the four film adaptations of this title, are found HERE.
What makes Drury Lane’s version of this dated show still good for a laugh or two is a tremendously talented cast. Comedic timing is terrific among Dunn, Tovar and, especially, Cantor. They are well-served by the three lovely flight attendants, Kara Zediker as American Gloria, Dina DiCostanzo as Italian Gabriella and Katherine Keberlein as German Gretchen.
Terrific assorted accents keep audience ears interested, none better or more entertaining than Cantor’s dead-on Wisconsinese. Dialect coach Sheila Landahl deserves a bow for her undoubtedly hard and successful work. Kudos, too, go out to scenic designer Samuel C. Ball for a gorgeous Parisian flat sturdy enough to sustain hundreds of slamming doors throughout the show’s run.
Thousands of witty airline parallels have undoubtedly been written in reviews of “Boeing Boeing” since it first appeared more than 50 years ago. A debacle could be, “turbulence aboard,” while a ringing success termed, “one happy landing.”
This production is neither; it is a talented team of professionals putting out a classic farce. Those who like slapstick will love it. Those who don’t must at least agree all travelers buckling in at Drury Lane this summer sit in first class.
“Boeing Boeing” runs through August 4 at the Drury Lane Theatre, 100 Drury Lane, Oakbrook Terrace, less than a 1-hour drive from all North Shore suburbs. Tickets range from $35 to $49 with some student and senior discounts. Dinner packages are also available Parking is complimentary. Information and tickets are available online or by phone 630-530-0111.
Barry Reszel is a Libertyville-based writer, at-home dad and executive director of the not-for-profit entertainment company Liberty Town Productions.