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298 Kinderkamack Road, Oradell, NJ 07649


Bergen County Players, inc.


«  »June 2024



Read full article at http://www.midbergen.com/index.php?module=News&func=display&sid=131

A few years back, this reporter used to have a game, when watching an old movie on TV. He would take a look at clues in the movie, such as technology, fashion, and, most notably, social attitudes, and try to figure out when the movie was made. There were certain landmarks that were very useful; one notable one was the radical difference in the attitude towards women which would clearly demarcate a movie made before 1969 from a movie made after 1971. It was therefore with great interest to see how a sex romp from the early 1960's would stand up to today's standards. However, with the Bergen County Players' production of Boeing-Boeing, it turns out that not only is this not a problem, it is not even an issue.

The play, ably directed by Alyson Cohn, is a farce. Any attempt to look at the plot-line too carefully will expose its absurdity, but that's part of the point; to emphasize it, all the parts are played broadly (no pun intended). One of the two main characters, Bernard (played by Larry Kadish), is by all rights a character that one should hate, but, in the fun of the play, it becomes easy to feel sorry for him as his carefully planned life begins to unravel.

For those unaware of the plot-line, Bernard, an American architect living in a rather odd but beautiful apartment in Paris (with 8 doors to the other rooms conveniently arranged in a semi-circle around his living room, in which all the action takes place), has 3 live-in fiancees, all unaware of each other's existence. It seems that they are all air hostesses (later called stewardesses, now called flight attendants), and their schedules are arranged that they are never in Paris at the same time. He is aided by an acerbic, long-suffering housekeeper, Berthe (Paula O'Brien, in a stand-out performance), who keeps the clothing, photographs, and menus straight. One day, his old school friend Robert (played by Dale Monroe, with more than a hint of Stan Laurel about him), planning to move to Paris himself, comes for a visit. At the same time, the schedules of the three fiancees (Gloria, an American, played by Allyson Stevenson, Gabriella, and Italian, played by Shiva Kiani, and Gretchen, a German, played by Sky Spiegel) start to change, partially due to faster planes coming into service, and promising a major collision of characters.

If this were played realistically, it would be about a lot of people getting emotionally hurt. But played as a broad farce, with all the movements, voices, and reactions turned up about 25%, it is just plain funny. Looking at the program at first, one wonders why there are two choreographers Oren Korenblum and director Alyson Cohn doing double duty). But looking at the play, with the actors careening around the set at an ever-increasing pace as the play goes on, one can appreciate how the careful choreography keeps it right at that border between funny and overdoing it, without ever stepping over it. As previously mentioned, Paula O'Brien does a wonderful job playing the maid who tries to stay professional under increasingly difficult circumstances, expressing alternatively her disdain for her employer's lifestyle and her panic as her efforts to keep that lifestyle afloat start to become unraveled.

On the technical side, as per usual for the Bergen County Players, the set design (which is largely dictated by the script) and props evoke the feeling of the early 1960's, take the full advantage of the stage in the Little Firehouse Theater, and fit in with the aforementioned choreography; set designer Tim Meola and prop woman Pat Bain should be congratulated, especially on their obtaining several vintage items from generous donors, such as the period flight bags.

The play's French origins (it was written by Marc Camoletti) show itself not only in the slapstick action characteristic of French farce, but at the French attitude towards the nationalities of the characters; notably, Gloria, the American fiancee, has habits (such as eating ketchup on her pancakes) or lines (such as explaining American women to an American man) which fit in far better when it is remembered that it is a Frenchman's take on Americans. But, as long as you are willing to suspend disbelief and be prepared for a night of laughing out loud slapstick, you will find yourself in for a fun evening.

The play, including a 15 minute intermission, runs just shy of 3 hours, although the time does fly when you're having a good time.

All performances of Boeing Boeing take place at The Little Firehouse Theatre, 298 Kinderkamack Road in Oradell. Performance times are Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm, and Sunday at 2pm, but there will be no performances on Memorial Day weekend. Tickets for Boeing Boeing are $20 for all Friday and Saturday performances, $16 for Sunday performances, and can be purchased online at www.bcplayers.org, by calling 201-261-4200, or by visiting the box office during regular box office hours. Visa, MasterCard, and American Express cards accepted.

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