Circle Theatre, Grand Rapids
Aug. 8-10, 14-18, 21-24; show times at 5 and 7:30 p.m.
circletheatre.org, (616) 456-6656
For Boeing-Boeing’s Bernard, love has always been a smooth cruise through clear skies. As an adroit juggler of three stewardess fiancés, the suave Parisian thinks he knows how to handle women. But fasten your seatbelts, folks.
When a fast new jet changes timetables, the playboy’s plans take an unexpected nosedive and all three women arrive at his apartment at once. Uproarious chaos ensues as Bernard desperately attempts to keep the international beauties from discovering each other.
Adapted from the most performed French play in the world, the 2008 Broadway revival edition of Boeing-Boeing is touching down at Circle Theatre. Hailed by audiences and critics alike for its costumes, sound design and storyline, the production scored Best Revival of a Play at the Tony Awards.
For Director Tom Kaechele, the main thrust of the play is its deep roots in the farce tradition, a genre near and dear to Kaechele’s heart.
“I’ve been known over at Circle Theatre for doing farces,” Kaechele said. “There’s something about doing farce that floats my boat. I like to play around with humorous material. It’s difficult to make an audience actually genuinely laugh, so unlocking laughter in an audience I find fun … Part of the fun of farce is what physical things to do with a character to eek out another laugh.”
In Boeing-Boeing, sets and costumes take on a crucial role in helping performers milk every last giggle. The play takes place in Bernard’s living room, in which seven doors provide plenty of opportunity for frenzied chaos as Bernard attempts to hide the three women from each other. An extra sturdy design allows walls to withstand explosive door-slams, while padding in the carpets and costumes permit the humor to get physical.
Within this perfect slap-stick setup, carefully choreographed movements and gutsy deliveries build upon each other to push the comedy an extra step further.
“My favorite part of farce is the end when it seems like it can’t get any more ridiculous and then it does; the wonderful moments like that is where the big belly laughs come," Kaechele said. "It’s all about really good timing and attention to detail ... It’s gonna be a sexy, physical romp, so the actors really gotta bring that energy."
With its over-the-top antics and dated, cheeky sexism, Boeing-Boeing does not presume to be intellectual or profound. Rather, it offers fun summer entertainment meant for relaxation.
“If people think, they won’t laugh, so you have to get them not to think,” Kaechele said. “[The show is] set in the '60s. It’s not pointing a contemporary finger at a current situation, so it becomes charming because of that … Circle Theatre is a great place to relax and enjoy theater. It’s a great place to check your brain at the door.”
Other Performing Arts Events
Life Could Be a Dream
Farmers Alley Theatre, Kalamazoo
Aug. 1-4, 8-11, show times at 2 and 8 p.m.
farmersalleytheatre.com, (269) 343-2727
From the creators of The Marvelous Wonderettes comes a doo-wop musical adventure featuring none other than the Crooning Crabcakes—the boys banned from the Marvelous Wonderettes’ prom. When the boys enter the Big Whopper Radio contest, they set their sights on fame and begin polishing up the catchiest '50s and '60s numbers they can get their hands on. As hilarity and heartbreak confront the boys at every turn, underdog triumphs and valuable lessons delight and inspire.
All Shook Up
Hope Summer Repertory Theatre
DeWitt Theatre, Holland
Aug. 2, 7, 10, 8 p.m.
hope.edu/hsrt, (616) 395-7890
Featuring Elvis Presley's greatest hits, this flagrant farce puts a jukebox comedy spin on Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. The story begins somewhere in the 1950s Midwest, where young mechanic Natalie longs for excitement and change. Enter Chad, a hip-swiveling jailbird sporting an Elvis 'do. Gender confusion and mistaken identity debacles bust loose as Chad shakes up the sleepy little town and introduces Natalie to the world of rock & roll.
Closer Than Ever
Mason Street Warehouse, Saugatuck
Aug. 16-18, 20-31, Sept. 1; show times at 2, 7 and 8 p.m.
masonstreetwarehouse.org, (269) 857-2399
Premiering for the first time in the Midwest after its New York run, Closer Than Ever features a series of musical vignettes that lovingly explore the highs and lows of human experience. Influenced by real-life stories, songs reminisce about cellulite, love, mid-life crisis and the bitter-sweet pains of growing older. Kurt Stamm reprises his role as the show’s choreographer and co-director which earned him a 2012 Callaway Award nomination.