Tryon Little Theater production recalls the ‘60s life in the fast lane

Published 12:35 pm Wednesday, May 17, 2023

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Boeing Boeing runs May 18-21

Boeing Boeing, currently playing at Tryon Little Theatre, is all about precise timing. International playboy, Bernard keeps precise flight schedules of three airline hostesses, who are — unknowingly of each other — his fianceées. He would rather them not run into each other and spoil his four-way love affair.

One of the hostesses is American, another is German, and another is Italian. To help keep things straight, he has a French housekeeper who understands the importance of discretion and international cuisine. It also helps that the bedroom doors are color coded — red, blue, yellow — along with many other aspects of the 1960 set design. But in 1960, times were a-changing, including jet plane engines that could go faster and change long-established takeoffs and landings in Paris where Bernard lived life to the fullest.

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With a change in the stars’ alignment and the unexpected visit of an old-school chum, Barnard’s life has just gotten very complicated.

Tryon Little Theater’s production of this classic comedy farce is delightful. The original play was by French playwright Marc Camoletti and has been listed as the most-performed French play in the world. 

Actor Brad Sandor has the lead role of Bernard. Sandor does cad well, especially once his house of cards begins to crumble and he goes from the suave and debonair bachelor to a man victimized by his own complications. He may have started out as a man in control of his little black book, but very quickly he is a man caught in the headlights of confusion. Sandor is at his best acting when emotions run high and everyone is running amok.

Reluctantly aiding and abetting Bernard’s lifestyle is his housekeeper Berthe, played by Donna Everett-Ferguson, who is also the show’s producer. Everett-Ferguson tackles the role with a no-nonsense attitude that plays well against Bernard’s have-it-all persona. Eventually, she has had enough of his tomfoolery and sets her own limits that come with a price that Bernard accepts out of desperation. Bravo, Everett-Ferguson for making Berthe a character not to be taken lightly.

Enter Robert, an unexpected visitor from Bernard’s high school days in Wisconsin. Played by Jess Holderbaum, Robert is Bernard’s flipside: shorter, heavier, wearing a frumpy sweater vest with geometric designs, and totally in awe of life in the fast lane. But he’d like to learn how Bernard maintains his diverse harem and makes naive attempts at making a pass at the stewardesses. Holderbaum definitely holds his own as a wingman actor against the flashier roles, making a supporting role a breath of fresh air in a room of self-important characters.

The three stewardesses steal the show when one or more of them enter at the worst possible time. Gloria is the American stewardess played by Amanda Sandor. She’s as level-headed as she is beautiful. As an American, she knows what she wants and how to get it, and she wants more than Bernard who is merely a temporary plaything until she finds the right man back home. Gabriella, played by Maggie Carter, is the hot-blooded Italian. Carter is my personal favorite actor in the play. Gretchen, played by Jacqueline Langley, is the thin-skinned and demanding German love interest. When it comes to drawing a line in sands of passion, Langley is an actor with focus and control, packaged with sublime values.

Boeing Boeing was first produced in English in 1962 at the Apollo Theatre in London. In 1965, it transferred to the Duchess Theatre where it ran for seven years. Since then, it has played around the world in many different languages. On Broadway, it played in 1965 and was revived in 2008. It has been nominated for several Tony Awards and received Best Revival awards from the Drama Desk and the Tonys in 2008. The story has also been made into a film several times, the most well-known being in 1965 featuring Jerry Lewis and Tony Curtis.

Tryon Little Theater is applauded here and at the end of each show for this outstanding production of Boeing Boeing, giving us a hearty and hilarious glimpse into the international mindset of the swinging ‘60s. With a delightful, attractive, and talented cast; a thoughtful set design; and inspired directing Tryon Little Theater has once again entertained its audience with quality and thought-provoking live theatre.

Que Sera, Sera.