Thursday, July 10, 2014

An Evening at the Theatre, "Boeing Boeing"

The show's premise is simple. Bernard is an American architecture living in Paris. He's engaged to 3 flight attendants stewardesses: Gloria works for TWA, Gabriella for Alitalia, and Gretchen flys for Lufthansa. Each woman has no idea about the other women due to their flight schedules. Robert, a school chum of Bernard's comes to visit and due to faster airplanes and delays due to fog and weather, Bernard's carefully scheduled lifestyle is in danger of exploding.

I had read the script several years ago, and because I work for an airline, I've always wanted to see a production. I had hoped to see the revival on Broadway, but I never made it. So, I was thrilled to learn that No Rules Theatre Co. was bringing Boeing Boeing to Winston-Salem. I immediately emailed Chad and we made plans to catch the final preview performance. In anticipation, I purchased a copy of the script to read again at the Drama Bookshop in NYC . I was counting down the days to the performance.

I'd never been in the Hanesbrand Theatre and was pleased that there's great legroom and the seats are comfortable. The Boeing Boeing pre-show set was eye-catching. I just knew I was in for a very fun evening!

Within the first 5 minutes, poor Nick Kowalczyk, who plays Bernard, was sweating at the pits. Ultimately that was the only remarkable thing about his performance. Sherry Berg, who portrayed Gloria, had such an affected, very high pitched New York accent, I was immediately put off. Knowing the character doesn't appear again until the second act, I overlooked it.

As soon as Jamie Smithson stepped onstage in the role of Robert, I knew I was going to regret the evening. There's absolutely nothing in the script that describes Robert as a nerd. From costume to characterization, that's how Jamie played him. His Robert was a mixture of Jerry Lewis' physicality, Jim Carrey's facial expressions and a smashup of Josh Gad's and Spongebob Squarepants' child-like vocalization. I was gobsmacked and trapped for the two hour first act.

Chad is usually into overacted farces, so I was surprised to notice that he wasn't laughing. We finally made it to intermission and quickly agreed that neither of us liked the show. We left at intermission.

As we walked back to the car, we both lamented the show. We wondered what the hell Matt Cowart, the director, had been thinking. Matt points out in his Director Notes that stewardesses "required not only an attractive appearance but higher education, fluency in at least two languages, and the flawless mastery of social etiquette." And yet none of his stewardesses were classy. Gabriella, played by Jenna Berk, was boisterious and Gretchen, played by Sarah Olmsted Thomas, was...well, let's just say that her performance left me speechless, and not in a good way. Her German accent was over-the-top (much like her performance) and difficult to understand.

As disappointed as I was with the show, I was grateful for one thing. Since it was a preview performance we only paid $15 per ticket. I'm so glad I didn't fork out a penny more.

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