This straight comedy play is the first offering of Repertory Philippines 76th season. I have not heard anything about this title before. Furthermore, except for the veteran Ms. Baby Barredo, this play was incredible in that there were NO real star actors in any of the lead roles, which I found quite brave. Honestly, it did not really cross my mind to watch this play, however I was tempted when the initial reviews all were very enthusiastic. Therefore when I won a raffle for tickets on herworld.com (again), my wife and I grabbed the chance to check out what the fuss was all about.
"Boeing Boeing" is set in the pad of American architect Bernard, in the city of Paris. Bernard had what he thought was the perfect arrangement when it comes to his women. He was simultaneously juggling three beautiful fiances, all of whom are airline stewardesses. Bernard depends on their respective route schedules to plan his days with them, and so far everything was going on like clockwork. His old friend from the province, Robert, who came to visit Bernard, was at the same time shocked and fascinated with this arrangement. Well, that is until one day, a big storm forces all three stewardesses to be in Paris, and in Bernard's flat, all at the same time! That was when the fun really starts. How can Bernard extricate himself out this big mess?
The three-timing playboy Bernard was played by a Caucasian guy named David Bianco. He does pretty well but I thought he lacked that certain dash and debonair spark that would make it believable that this guy could actually snag and handle three gorgeous girls at a time. Well, maybe that was part of the plan, that he could do it yet remain looking innocent about it.
Jennifer Blair-Bianco, David Bianco's real life wife, played the vivacious Gloria in fiery red, the American who works for TWA. Giannina Ocampo plays the passionate Gabriella in royal blue, the Italian who works for Alitalia. Carla Dunareanu plays the feisty Gretchen in bright yellow, the German girl who works for Lufthansa. Where have these ladies been before? They were really spot on as they were all beautiful, sexy, daring and funny as their roles demanded. Ms. Dunareanu (said to be Christian Bautista's girlfriend) stands out with her character's neuroses and German accent and attitude, which she succeeded to make endearing despite the stereotype. It was only when Gretchen appeared on stage when the play finally "woke up" for me.
While Topper Fabregas felt like the odd man out in the cast when it comes to his moreno complexion, he was generally energetic and delightful in his performance as Bernard's provincial friend, Robert. He projected that naivete his character required, not knowing what he was getting into that day he decided to pay his old friend Bernard a visit. But in some scenes, his character can be confusing because Topper's acting can be inconsistent.
As the only veteran and most senior member in the cast, Ms. Baby Barredo was quite the effective female curmudgeon as the maid Bertha. This crude, grumpy, ever-complaining character gets to deliver many of the funny one-liner jokes, and of course Ms. Barredo delivers as only she could. I would have liked to have seen her alternate, Ms. Joy Virata, play Bertha as well. I can imagine a very different attack on the character.
Read more about BWW Reviews: BOEING-BOEING by Repertory Philippines by philippines.broadwayworld.com
"Boeing Boeing" was originally written in French by Marc Camoletti. It was translated to English by Beverley Cross, and was first staged in London's West End in 1962, and in Broadway in 1965. It had a successful Tony Award winning revival on Broadway in 2007. To be honest, it really felt like the play was written and trapped in the 1960s, with a very dated concept and setting. The stereotypes of the girls' nationalities are not exactly politically correct and potentially offensive as it was written (especially if you are American or German). Fortunately though, the effective stage direction by Miguel Faustmann and the energetic performance of the cast, especially the vivacious ladies dressed in those attractive and sexy air hostess uniforms by Raven Ong, make the play somehow feel fresh, fun and light-hearted. We were actually laughing out loud in many hilarious madcap scenes, and that really felt great, but you still feel something lacking somewhere.
Rep's production of "Boeing Boeing" runs at Onstage Theater, Greenbelt 1, Ayala Malls for one more weekend until Sunday, February 17.