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By R. Eli Townsend
Special to The PREVIEW
Thingamajig Theatre Company rushes into the new year with hearty laughs. And while the holiday season may be behind us, the season to be silly on stage is just beginning. So it goes at The Pagosa Springs Center for the Arts, where Marc Camoletti’s featherweight, thoroughly unnecessary and totally groovy farce “Boeing Boeing” is playing through Jan. 26.
The plot revolves around Bernard (Tim Moore) as a swinging single guy juggling an “international harem” of three comely fiancés in 1960s Paris. Playboy Bernard keeps his stewardesses separate thanks to the miracle of modern day air travel, a closely monitored book of flight schedules (a timetable of all the major airline routes in one volume) and a no-nonsense maid, Berthe (Betty Schwicker).
Directed with plenty of physical comedy by Ryan Hazelbaker, Moore is surrounded by a sturdy cast of solid comedians. The result is full-throttle, mindless fun, a comedy that careens from one outlandish scene to the next as our flighty hetero hero finds himself mired in increasingly complicated, compromised sexual shenanigans. As anyone who has ever flown out of a major airport well knows, airline timetables are more aspirational than factual, so it’s no spoiler to note that the women in Bernard’s life all wind up in his Parisian pad at the same time. The arrivals and departures of the German Gretchen (Laura Moore), a statuesque brunette bombshell; Gabriella (Dana Colagiovanni), a sultry, va-va-va-voom Italian; and Gloria (Melissa Cheffers), a blonde vixen born in the United States, provide plenty of hijinx as Bernard scrambles to keep the ladies from crossing paths. Assisting Bernard and the invaluable Berthe is Robert (Steven E. Sitzman), the square, straight man to Bernard’s high-flying player.
The plot is as thin as the air at 30,000 feet, but that doesn’t make “Boeing Boeing” any less of a hoot. Because of its slight story, Camoletti’s farce looks deceptively effortless. There’s no subtext here to ponder, no metaphors to unpack, no great nuance to any of the characters. But like even the simplest of farces, “Boeing Boeing” requires the elite level comic timing and a cast with a pitch-perfect degree of comic verve. The former can be honed during the rehearsal process. The latter, arguably, is something that’s more innate; either you’re funny or you aren’t. Most of the jokes in “Boeing Boeing” are obvious, and cheesy. For them to land, you absolutely must have an ensemble of seriously superior comedic chops that the Thingamajig Theatre Company’s cast has.
Schwicker plays Berthe as a buttoned-up, daffy sort of martyr, a long-suffering servant whose prim allegiance to order is upended by the all-too friendly skies Bernard insists on traveling. She’s the anti-flight attendant, browbeating anyone who gets on her nerves.
As Bernard’s Wisconsin-bred pal Robert, the rubber-faced, putty-limbed Sitzman mines comic gold, nailing the wide-eyed, corn-fed affect of a Midwestern boy who has never been anywhere more cosmopolitan than, say, Sheboygan.
Laura Moore, Colagiovanni and Cheffers perform marvelously, creating three distinct women from three madcap-written characters.
As for Tim Moore, he anchors the production, convincing as both straight man, with plenty of opportunities for laughs, as well and suave ladies’ man.
“Boeing Boeing” is a rollicking ride from start to finish, packed with the sort of turbulence that makes for a high-flying hit.
Thingamajig Theatre Company presents “Boeing Boeing” directed by Ryan Hazelbaker. Rated PG-13. Jan. 10-26, Fridays and Saturdays at 7 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. For tickets and show information, please visit www.pagosacenter.org or call 731-SHOW.