Boeing Boeing Takes Laughter to New Flights

ORLANDO — Being a flight attendant must sound awfully glamorous. You fly to exotic places, see the world’s top international cities, and become a constant explorer.

Bernard certainly thinks so — in fact, he loves the profession.

Except, Bernard isn’t a flight attendant. In fact, this American in Paris virtually never leaves his apartment in that great city. He’s too busy wooing his fiancee Gloria, an American who works as a flight attendant …

… and his fiancee Gabriella, a feisty Italian who works as a flight attendant …

… and his temperamental fiancee Gretchen, who is German and works as a flight attendant …

Ah, you’re getting the picture!

Boeing Boeing, the 1960s play by Marc Comeoletti, is a classic farce about naughty people who think they can get away with something, until their luck really, really runs out. The zany comedy, which relies as much on visual slapstick as it does on snappy lines and nutty situations, has found a home at Valenca College East Campus, where the Valencia College Theatre has put some fabulous acting talent front and center.

What Is Boeing Boeing?

This comedy has a perfect farcical setup: Bernard, all smiles and lovey-dovey kisses, wishes Gloria a safe flight as she heads off to the airport. The timing is perfect because Gabriella will be landing soon in Paris, and arriving home to her loving “fiance.” Bernard’s maid, Berthe, is well aware of what he’s doing, but a job is a job, so she does her best to ensure there are no problems or complications — including the three famed portraits of each fiancee on the wall, which have to be switched whenever one of them is returning. It makes for one of the play’s funnier sight gags.

When Bernard’s old buddy Robert arrives from Wisconsin to catch up with his old pal, Bernard has a grand time explaining to him about how he has three fiancees, but gets away with it because they’re all flight attendants and always fly at different times. Robert is aghast that he goes to this much trouble, but decides he’ll play along, even though it sounds like a major risk certain to produce great stress.

Little does he know.

Problems start when Bernard heads off to work, and Gabriella calls to say she’s coming home early. Then, so does Gretchen. With both women arriving at the same time, an exasperated Berthe and Robert have their hands full trying to keep the ladies from discovering one another.

And it only gets worse.

How is the Valencia College Production?

While the play can be predictable at times, director John DiDonna keeps things lively, establishing a frenetic pace once the fiancees start showing up, while expertly training his cast on pratfalls, subtle desperate movements (that the audience notices but other cast members are not supposed to), and sight gags galore. A pot of flowers, a woman’s handbag and a meal of sauerkraut all play into the hilarity.

The cast is certainly another major asset to the production. There’s some rich talent in the Valencia College Theatre department these days — show up and discover for yourself!

Blake Gatling has just the right mix of calm composure and smug delight in his scheme coming off so effortlessly — until, of course, it falls apart miserably. Mailley Worden (Gloria), Lydia Vaughn (Gretchen) and especially Alexandra Serrano as the hot-tempered Gabriella certainly show us why Bernard was so interested in them in the first place — and the steep price he might pay if they discover his philandering.

Samuel Wetherbee as Robert and Dafne Cardena as Berthe steal some of the biggest laughs as they take on the burden of hiding Bernard’s escapades from each fiancee, and they certainly demonstrate some riotous skill at physical comedy.

The show, which runs for 2 hours and 15 minutes with an intermission, also benefits from a beautifully designed set for Bernard’s living room, where doors, photos on the wall and a bar all contribute to the humor. Boeing Boeing will be taking off soon to its next destination, so hurry up and get aboard.

Where Can I See Boeing Boeing?

Boeing Boeing is being performed on tonight and on April 11, 12, and 13 at 7:30 p.m. in the Black Box Theatre at Valencia College East Campus.  Prices are $15 for general admission, $10 for students, seniors 60 and older, members of the military, and Valencia faculty & staff, and $7 for children ages 12 and under.

The campus is at 701 N. Econlockhatchee Trail in East Orlando. For tickets, visit  https://ticketpeak.co/valenciacollege/events.

Michael Freeman is an Orlando journalist, playwright and author of the terrifying book “Bloody Rabbit”. Contact him at Freelineorlando@gmail.com.

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