One look at Kit Anderton’s set for Pinnacle Acting Company’s production of “Boeing, Boeing,” and we instantly know what to expect. It has an unusual number of doors: The play is obviously a farce. Get ready for fast and frantic fun. “Boeing, Boeing” delivers on that promise most of the time.
Another conspicuous detail in the set is a globe of the world, which gives us a clue to the plot. Bernard (Don Leavitt) is an American architect living in Paris near Orly Airport. He has managed to acquire three fiancées, all of them stewardesses who fly in and out of his life at precisely calculated intervals.
Gloria (Anne Louise Brings) is a brassy, outspoken American who works for TWA. Gabriella (Nicki Nixon) is a charming, romantic Italian who flies with Alitalia. And Gretchen (Tiffani Leavitt) is an autocratic, unpredictable German with Lufthansa. They all have the same first initial, which Bernard finds helpfully symmetrical.
He enjoys “all the advantages of married life with none of the drawbacks,” Bernard enthuses to his old friend Robert (Roger Dunbar), who has just arrived from Wisconsin, “where things are quieter.” On that particular morning, Gloria is just leaving, Gabriella is making a lunch stopover and Gretchen is due in late that night. “There aren’t many like monsieur. He’s in a class of his own,” confides Bertha (Melanie Nelson), Bernard’s sharp-tongued, long-suffering maid.
It doesn’t take a genius to see what’s coming. When schedule changes and bad weather land all three women in the apartment at the same time, Robert valiantly tries to help the beleaguered Bernard cope and emerge unscathed. “It’s definitely more interesting than Wisconsin,” Robert observes.
Pinnacle’s production is a bit uneven but generally funny and entertaining. Brings, Nixon and Leavitt attractively flesh out their characters, making them more than one-dimensional national stereotypes. Nelson is particularly good as the put-upon Bertha, melodramatically making the most of one meltdown after another. Nelson and Leavitt struggle with their accents at first, and Brings starts off talking much too fast, but all three settle down as the play progresses. Dunbar is hilarious as Robert, fusing the flat A’s of his accent and a slightly dazed look into the perfect portrait of a misplaced Midwesterner. Only Don Leavitt seems miscast here; his Bernard lacks the sophisticated air and mischievous manipulativeness of a Don Juan.
Hugh Hanson’s direction is efficient and fast-moving. He has the actors opportunistically exploit the set’s beanbag hassock, tripping over it and even using it as a weapon. Jason Hardell makes the most of the auditorium’s limited lighting system, and Amanda Reiser’s costumes are stylish and colorful. Hanson frames the show with appropriate French music.
“Boeing, Boeing” is just a bit of fluff, but it’s a welcome diversion from the January after-holiday doldrums. Now if the company could only get out of this totally inadequate venue.
P Pinnacle Acting Company’s “Boeing, Boeing” offers an entertaining antidote for the January blahs.
When • Reviewed on Jan. 10; Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. through Jan. 25, with a matinee Jan. 25 at 2 p.m.
Where • Midvale Performing Arts Center (old City Hall), 695 W. Center St. (7720 South), Midvale
Running time • Two hours and 15 minutes (including an intermission)
Tickets • $15; $13 for students and seniors; $12 for the matinee. Call 801-810-5793 or visit www.pinnacleactingcompany.org for tickets or information.
Note • The play contains adult language and situations.