Final play of the season at Fredric March Theatre


Ethan Uslabar

Bernard, Robert and two stewardesses fill the stage of Fredric March Theatre with their comedic personas.

A farce about a bachelor named Bernard who owns a flat in Paris, is engaged to three stewardesses and has an eccentric housemaid named Berthe comes to Fredric March Theatre May 2-4 at 7:30 p.m. and May 5 at 2 p.m.

The fantasy of being engaged to three stewardesses is brought to reality when Bernard keeps his relationship statuses hidden. Bernard’s plans take a turn for the worst when his old schoolmate Robert visits and all three stewardesses arrive at once.

French Italian playwright Marc Camoletti wrote “Boeing Boeing” in 1962 and playwright Beverley Cross adapted it into English in 1965. Boeing Boeing appeared in the Guiness Book of World Records in 1991 as the most-performed French play throughout the world. It ran for seven years at the Duchess Theatre starting the year Cross translated it.

The characters and their performing actors are: Bernard, an American turned Parisian Architect (Robert Reeves); Berthe, Bernard’s French housemaid (Mary Margaret Clementi); Robert, Bernard’s old schoolmate (Garrett Johnson); and the three stewardesses: Gabriella (Autumn Christensen), Gloria (Ali Basham) and Gretchen (Sami Markle).

Director Richard Kalinoski said his favorite part of the play is Berthe. “She acts as a sardonic response to the ongoing nonsense. Her world is to keep order, but she’s French and she has a lot of prejudices about Americans.”

Camoletti wrote the play to be amusing to people, Kalinoski said. “Especially in the world of stewardesses, flight attendants. Basically he invented a bunch of nonsense. Anybody who writes a farce hopes the audience will be wildly entertained and find all kinds of reasons to laugh and go home happy. That’s certainly my intention.”

Kalinoski said the actors are taking to their roles with quite a bit of relish and for them, the play has been similar to a playground.

“They get to do all sorts of goofy stuff,” Kalinoski said. “There is a lot of kissing in it, which I am surprised they have seemed to have taken to. Most actors, especially if they have been in a serious play recently, they enjoy a farce. It is allowed to be noisier, bigger, more playful. That’s fine, that’s what the form is.”

Bernard and Robert performed by UWO students Robert Reeves and Garrett Johnson in Boeing Boeing.
Ethan Uslabar
Bernard and Robert performed by UWO students Robert Reeves and Garrett Johnson in Boeing Boeing.

The actors are going to have to learn during their performances, Kalinoski said. They’re going to have to hold when the audience laughs, and they’re going to be surprised when the audience laughs at things that nobody in the cast thought would be funny. “I would say all six of them are very composed on stage and tend not to get rattled.”

A critical component of the play is in the characters accents. One is from New York, one is from Germany and one is from Italy.

“The German one and the Italian one, their accents are pronounced,” Kalinoski said. “Berthe has the biggest role. The maid is very, very French. In order for the play to work, the accent doesn’t necessarily have to be great, but it has to be obvious.”

Clementi said the French accent did not come easy for her.

“I knew from the beginning that it was either going to be fantastic or a flop. It took me awhile before I started to feel comfortable enough to break it out during rehearsals. I kept working on it on my own. Watching every YouTube ‘how to’ clip available to me, reading articles to try to understand the different vowel sounds and mouth shapes, and even downloading an app on my phone that allows me to type in any word and it’ll automatically say the word with a French accent. Huge thanks to my mom for bringing that to my attention. It’s been a Godsend.”

Clementi said she finds herself breaking into dialect while she is at home cleaning, getting dressed and doing homework. “It just comes naturally now. Knowing that I can jump into it so easily, I feel much more comfortable to present it to an audience,” Clementi said. “I’m no longer self conscious about it.”

Bernard, on the other hand, is suave, confident and a little bit eccentric.
Reeves said, “He’s so confident in himself that, as the play progresses, we see how different a man he becomes when his ideal life nearly falls apart.”
Reeves said he and his character are very different people, apart from the obvious polygamy.

“I’m rather introverted and Bernard is the opposite, and while I’d say I certainly don’t lack confidence, Bernard is on a whole different level than I am,” Reeves said. “To name a cliché, he’s definitely a character.”

“Boeing Boeing” will be the theater department’s final production of the season. The season has seen plays range from the morbid Sweeney Todd with a 60-piece orchestra, to the most recent slapstick Moon Over Buffalo, with actors coming and going on and off stage and slamming the door for effect.