We all know that far too familiar storyline - a man settles down with too many women, juggles multiple relationships at a time and takes advantage of overlapping schedules. Sounds like a rom com, doesn’t it? Actually, this storyline dates back to the `60s. Boeing Boeing is a famous French play – if you’ve never heard of it – written by Marc Camoletti that happens to include this same form of comedic, dramatic irony, except a bit more reserved than what we see today. This play was actually so successful in the `60s that it was translated into English, performed countless times and permanently inked in The Guinness Book of World Records in 1991 for its number of performances throughout the world. Camoletti sure did something right.
So what makes Boeing Boeing such a must-see? “It has all the classic elements of comedy,” says David Jepson, artistic director of the Granite Theatre in Westerly. “Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin, Harold Lloyd – [the play] has echoes of their types of humor which still hold up today.” And don’t discount the consistent following and positive reactions of this hilarious farce. Humbly residing in Paris – or so it seems – hunky bachelor Bernard has wooed two too many women. And while he can’t wait to get his life started with his future wife – oh, and the other two – unexpected circumstances arise that knock Bernard’s sneaky plans for a loop. Who would have thought three women from three different countries – Italy, Germany and America – would all arrive at the same place at the same time? C’est la vie!
“It’s the high point of the play,” says Jepson, regarding the famous scene where Bernard’s stewardess fiancées find out the truth. “The scene is a riot. I think everybody knows it’s going to happen. It’s a fun, joyous ride to that moment.”
After 13 seasons of productions, including a few by Camoletti, the staff at Granite Theatre are dedicating a generous chunk of its summer schedule to bring Boeing Boeing to life in Rhode Island, now showing through July 21. Granite Theatre is what Jepson calls the former Colonial Theatre’s “reincarnation.” Granite Theatre’s founding producer, the late Paul Lynch, sought out Jepson, who was producing in Pawtucket at the time (and has produced over 2,500 performances) and gave birth to the theater in 2000. “Lynch called me to see if I was crazy enough to operate two theaters at one time,” explains Jepson. “I did, for two years, until moving down to Westerly and making the nonprofit Granite Theatre my full-time endeavor.”
Jepson’s theater company, The Renaissance City Theatre Inc., has continued to have huge success with the Granite Theatre, considering itself a community theater as it offers a mix of genres, guaranteeing something for everyone. Holding eight major productions within the span of a year, the Granite Theatre’s activity is compared to that of a regional theater. And with Boeing Boeing as one of these must-sees, we can predict a successful, hilarious summer and perhaps even a lesson – maybe? “The moral is not a very deep message,” Jepson says, laughing, “but I guess the moral would be to be satisfied with one person in your life.”
Despite its surface-level morality, Boeing Boeing offers more than a laugh or two. The theater carefully chose the production for many reasons, one including its Tony Award-winning Broadway performance for Best Comedy Revival, so you may just find yourself bringing your date a second time. After all, with over 100 major productions under its belt, there’s no doubt that the Granite Theatre knows how to put on a mind-blowing performance. Playing now through July 21. Call 401-596-2341 or visit their website for ticket information.