Once it gets airborne, this is one funny flight

Heidi-Marie Ferren as the German stewardess and Sarah Doherty as the diminutive, long-suffering maid.
Heidi-Marie Ferren as the German stewardess and Sarah Doherty as the diminutive, long-suffering maid. (JOE DEL TUFO / Mobius New Media Inc.)
Posted: January 29, 2013

The flight of the swingin' '60s French farce Boeing Boeing - which had its English-language premiere in 1962, and was filmed with Jerry Lewis and Tony Curtis - hasn't exactly been nonstop, but in recent years it sure has picked up speed. Now it's landed at Delaware Theatre Company, preceded by a 2009 production at Ambler's Act II Playhouse, and, before that, award-winning revivals on Broadway and the West End.

So what makes this bachelor fantasy, with its carousel of international air hostesses, so right for right now? Perhaps the world's macro-turbulence makes bachelor Bernard's micro-turbulence so appealing. After all, which would you rather watch, CNN's foreign desk or a Paris-based swell and his nerdy Wisconsin pal juggling a trio of leggy stewardesses - German, Italian, and American? The latter? Perfect; you know where you can stow all that oversized baggage.

Director Steve Tague and costumer Kim Krumm Sorenson stick with primary colors here. The ladies are caricatures: Heidi-Marie Ferren's Gretchen is a Dietrich dominatrix in canary yellow; Sara Bruner's Gloria twangs Texan in bright red; and Gisela Chipe stirs the pot as a hotheaded Italian in blue. Jason O'Connell's Bernard and Jeffrey C. Hawkins' pratfalling, bowtied Robert are increasingly, deliciously ridiculous.

Diminutive Sarah Doherty reprises her Act II Playhouse role as Bernard's long-suffering maid, Berthe. Aside from the fun in watching this lady-go-round make the men's heads spin, it's almost worth the ticket price to see relatively Amazonian (and hilarious) Ferren toss Doherty around like a beloved dress-up doll.

Stefanie Hansen's sunken living room in muted tones doesn't swing quite as hard as its inhabitants, but it gets the job done, with bubble lights, chrome accents, an Eames-style seating arrangement, and starburst knobs on all the slamming doors. And when those doors start moving, so does the production. This cast takes a while to wind up, but when, in the first of many laugh-out-loud moments (I won't ruin it), the tension bursts, it goes full throttle.


Boeing Boeing

Through Feb. 10 at Delaware Theatre Company, 200 Water St., Wilmington. Tickets: $35-$39. 302-594-1100 or www.DelawareTheatre.org

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