What’s a guy to do when juggling three women?
The JMU theater department is kicking off its season with 'Boeing Boeing,' an English adaption of a French farce.
Set in the 1960s, 'Boeing Boeing' is a Tony Award-winning comedy that follows Bernard, a sly bachelor who winds up engaged to three different women: all airline hostesses. He’s confident that he has everything under control. That is, until fate brings them all to the same place at the same time. Bernard is forced to try and charm his way out of this chaotic situation, and restore the stability of his love life before it crashes and burns.
“The best thing about this particular farce is that it doesn’t require a lot of deep thinking,” said Wolf J. Sherrill, a theater professor who directed the play. “In my mind, there are all kinds of things going on in the world; looming government shutdowns, and countries that we’re thinking about intervening. So regardless of what your political affiliation is or your worries about the world, you can get a ticket to 'Boeing Boeing,' let all of that go and enjoy someone else’s problems for a while.”
The cast members were also able to use this as an experience to explore new theatrical techniques that were brought forth through the production.
“What I enjoy about the play is that it really gives actors an opportunity to learn about comedic technique and get a chance to practice that onstage, hopefully in a way that the audience finds amusing and funny,” Sherrill said.
The characters succeed in providing a comical, upbeat performance that lifts spirits and breeds lots of laughs. Behind the scenes, cast members share their experience with getting into character both physically and mentally.
“I play Gretchen, and she is a strong, passionate German airline attendant who is madly in love with her fiancée," said Mary Kathryn Johnson, a sophomore musical theater major. "Because it’s such a high-energy show and my character is very strong, I’ve had to do a lot of pushups and planks to make sure I am ready to lift things and just go crazy like I do in the show."
Sixth-year theater and dance and media arts and design double major Cameron Clarke, who plays Robert, shares the personality of his character, and his method for preparing for his role as well.
Robert is from Wisconsin and "he’s basically just the American who’s just coming to Paris and kind of gets thrust into this whole crazy mess of Bernard," Clarke said. "He’s kind of a dweeb. He’s very naive and kind of wide-eyed. I did a lot of physical work like changing my posture and my body position to get into Robert’s physical world. It has a lot to do with rhythm. Getting the proper rhythm is what makes a moment funny.”
'Boeing Boeing' is classified as a farce, which is a type of play that’s highly exaggerated and over the top.
“I love this play,” Johnson said. “I like that it’s a comedy. I love the style of farce. It requires you to be very sharp and precise and know exactly what you’re doing. And it takes a lot of practice and a lot of planning but a lot of fun and just letting go at the same time and just trusting your instincts. It’s been a real challenge for all of us as actors.”
According to Cameron Clarke, “If you really, really want to have a good time and genuinely laugh your butt off, you should come see it.”
'Boeing Boeing' runs September 24 – 28 at 8 p.m. and September 29 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $11 with a JACard.