It’s Paris, 1960. American expat Bernard has the perfect system worked out. He’s engaged to three women: Gloria, Gabriella and Gretchen, all stewardesses from different airlines. Their flight schedules keep them on a perfect rotation in and out of his life. Until, of course, it stops working.
“Boeing-Boeing,” now playing at the New Theatre Restaurant, is a classic French farce from the 1960s. The English version was revived in London in 2007 and on Broadway in 2008, where it won a pair of Tonys. The New Theatre production is headlined by Debra Jo Rupp, a veteran of stage, film and television, best known for playing Kitty Forman on “That ’70s Show.”
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The hilarity begins when Bernard’s old friend Robert comes to visit from Wisconsin on the same day that all of Bernard’s fiancées’ schedules are disrupted and they start to converge on the apartment. Bernard, Robert and Bernard’s housekeeper Bertha have their hands full trying to keep the women from running into one another.
Seth Macchi plays Bernard with the gleeful skeeviness of Barney Stinson from “How I Met Your Mother.” Yes, he’s a terrible person, but he’s charming, so it doesn’t matter. Craig Benton’s Robert is delightfully frantic as he finds himself being pulled further and further into the absurdity of the deception.
Ashton Heyl as Gretchen, a tall, effusive German with a strong sense of commitment, and Ashley Pankow as Gloria, a fiery Texan cheerleader-type, have perhaps the most fun, leaning into their accents and the physical comedy of their roles. Jessalyn Kincaid’s Gabrielle is the most relatable character of the play, which ironically leaves her with less memorable scenes than the other two.
Rupp plays the put-upon Bertha, who has the thankless job of keeping Bernard’s complicated life running smoothly. Her deadpan-exasperated commentary on the goings-on throughout the play pushes against the earnestness of the other characters to good comedic effect.
Mary Traylor’s bright, primary-colored stewardess costumes are flattering and energetic, and Jason Coale’s set, while simple (a living room with several doors leading to various bedrooms and the kitchen), is pretty to look at.
Nothing happens in “Boeing-Boeing” that you wouldn’t expect, and there’s a bit of a lull in the middle, a curious lack of escalation, as we wait for the women to discover what’s up. Why Robert throws himself so completely into defending the slimy secret of a friend he hasn’t seen in six years is never really explained, either. But none of this is likely to detract from the audience’s enjoyment of the show, if Thursday night’s roaring crowd is any indication.
“Boeing-Boeing” runs through April 23 at the New Theatre Restaurant, 9229 Foster St. in Overland Park. Visit newtheatre.com or call 913-649-7469 for tickets.