‘Boeing’: Footloose and fiancées three

An outrageous love quadrilateral and a lot of laughter overcame an audience in the Arena Theater April 30 in Richland’s last performance of “Boeing, Boeing” by Marc Camoletti. 

Six Richland drama students put on a fantastic show in this two-hour French farce set in the 1960s, where all the action takes place in a young bachelor’s flat in Paris.

Director Gregory Lush told the audience before the play began how proud he and other drama faculty were of this play because everything, from the lighting to the costumes, were entirely designed by the students.  

Raied Makhamreh had the delightful role of Bernard, a 20-something American architect working in Paris. Makhamreh was ideal as the tall, dark and handsomeBernard, who was lucky enough to succeed at duping three beautiful, young women into being his fiancées – all at the same time. Only problem? They didn’t know about each other, so from the first scene, the audience knew they were in for some really good laughs. 

Now, to accomplish this preposterous feat, Bernard had a unique scheme going.  His fiancées, all three airline hostesses, as they were called in the ‘60s, all worked for different airlines. Beside that, the ladies were from different countries and their first names all began with the letter G:  Gloria, Gabriella and Gretchen. If there were any single guys in the audience without a girlfriend, they were probably drooling over such a convenient scheme. 

Much to Camoletti’s credit, all the characters seemed so likable, but what made this production so successful was the sharp contrast among the three actresses playing the fiancées. Not only were their outfits colorful, but their hairstyles and temperaments gave them individuality, based on the country from which they came.

Mieko Hicks played Gloria, a serious New Yorker with a really long ponytail, wearing pastel green – who demanded attention just by her appearance: tall, thin, sophisticated, soft spoken – with an emphasis on “very sexy.” She flew for TWA. 

Then there was the petite, but highly emotional Gabriella, a long-haired brunette played by Audrey Clark, wearing bright green outfits. She flew for Alitalia. Madison Reye portrayed Bernard’s overbearing German fiancée, Gretchen, who really stood out in bright yellow clothes and short blond hair.  She flew for Lufthansa. Their Italian and German accents added to their individuality. All three demanded Bernard’s attention every minute they were with him.             

Makhamreh was good at portrying Bernard’s overblown ego. His routine wasentirely based on precision – he had the girls’ airline schedules all worked out so when one fiancée left, another arrived within minutes. 

But then, Bernard’s friend from Wisconsin, Robert Lambert, came to visit and turned everything upside down.   

It didn’t take long before the two of them colluded to keep the fiancées unaware of each other after Bernard explained that, “Fiancées are friendlier than wives,” and Robert found the setup rather appealing.  

Henser Reyes was well cast as the soft-spoken Robert, the complete opposite of Bernard, both in appearance and attitude. In one scene, Bernard proved he’s a whiz at keeping the fiancées separate by opening a cabinet on the wall where he had airline routes and timetables of each fiancée pasted. He calls his harem “international romantic bliss.” 

Raven Lanuza-Brown was convincing in her role as Bernard’s faithful maid, Bertha, as she tried to keep his lovefest working. In contrast to the Italian and German fiancées, the audience couldn’t help but laugh as Lanuza-Brown argued throughout the play with Bernard in her broken French accent, complaining about their chaotic household of juggling women and airline timetables. Her short, black-and-white maid outfit, complete with an apron and white heels, made her role that much more believable. By the end of the play, the audience was probably overjoyed that she got a 40 percent raise from Bernard. Lanuza-Brown was also assistant costume designer.

The second act brought on some turbulence as plot twists became a nosedive. Bernard’s game toppled when the fiancées all converged at his flat on the same time. Between Bernard and Robert, who were in a panic to keep the ladies separated, Bernard confessed, “I’m having a nervous breakdown.” 

In one of the final scenes, the fiancées clashed with the two romeos in their feeble attempts to explain their way out of the chaos. The play ended with a surprise. 

Gloria admitted she was really engaged to two other men in addition to Bernard, so the joke was on him. There was a guy who was waiting for her at the Acapulco Hilton in Mexico, after making his first million, and still another nameless guy in Los Angeles whom she had to dump, since the grass is greener in Mexico.  She would resign her job because she wanted a married life. Gretchen fell in love with Robert – instead of Bernard – while Bernard declared his great love for Gabriella, his favorite. 

“Boeing” was just for fun. It was meant to be entertaining and provoke a lot of laughs. That was definitely the case. In fact, it was such a great performance that the cast received a standing ovation.