FloArts presents “Boeing-Boeing,” the most performed French play of all time
Kicking off the fall lineup of performances at the Florida School of the Arts is the madcap farce “Boeing-Boeing.” Written by French playwright Marc Camoletti and translated by Beverley Cross, the English language adaptation of “Boeing-Boeing” was first staged in London in 1962 and ran for a total of seven years. This comedic play has been recorded in the Guinness Book of Records as the most performed French play throughout the world.
Under the direction of FloArts acting professor Kevin Kelly, the performance is set to run September 29 - October 1 at 7:30 p.m. and October 2 at 2:30 p.m. on the FloArts main stage, located on the St. Johns River State College Palatka campus. General admission is $5. SJR State employees and students are admitted free with College I.D. The performance contains mild, mature content.
Set in the 1960s, the play begins with three gorgeous stewardesses who share a flat in Paris and also share, unknowingly, the same fiancé. Bernard, an expatriate American architect, couldn’t be happier being engaged to three different women, until his timid friend and old school buddy from Wisconsin, Robert, arrives in Paris to stay. When Robert can’t keep up with which lies to tell Bernard’s three fiancés, who are from three different parts of the world, Bernard’s Boeing jet ride begins to get quite bumpy.
According to FloArts student Devin Fuentes, who will portray Robert, “Robert is a quirky, rather-awkward guy who is a polar opposite to his friend Bernard. He’s a good, kind guy who gets caught in the middle of a whirlwind when he visits his old friend Bernard in Paris,” he said. “As Bernard regales Robert with his tales of love and fun with three different women, the wackiness begins. When all three fiancés show up, on the same day, Bernard and Robert come up with a zany way to make sure none of the ladies meet each other or find out about each other.”
While the actors have been hard at work to bring “Boeing-Boeing” to the stage, the members of the behind-the-scenes crew have also been putting their skills to work and learning new ones. Katrina Babitzke, assistant lighting designer, said that as a result of working on the play, she has learned new techniques for hanging lighting instruments, circuiting, working with dimmers and more. “Things I didn’t get to learn in high school,” she said. While Babitzke was exposed to theatre lighting in high school, she said she’s enjoying learning advanced techniques at FloArts while getting used to a new space, meeting many new people and working with faculty.
According to lighting design faculty supervisor and technical director Robert O’Leary, “The lighting, designed by second-year student Searcy Holley IV, while seemingly just situational to location and time of day, will depart from the norm to play into the comedy and embellish some of the ridiculousness of the characters and their ‘compromising moments’ during the action of the story.”
O’Leary, who is also the show’s scenic faculty supervisor, explained, “The set design for “Boeing- Boeing” is heavily influenced by the modern mid-century interiors of the late ‘50s and early ‘60s. It is the quintessential bachelor pad of our swinging bachelor/architect, Bernard, somewhat near the airport in Paris in 1961. Apart from bringing us into Paris in the early ‘60s, the set provides a ‘Scooby-Doo’ type of multi-doored playground for the fast-paced comedic action of the play. Our stage manager and second-year student Kylee Risdon has been managing the production since auditions, and her excellent timing in calling the show during production will keep this comedy on its toes.”
Alexa Williams, a second-semester student, is the lead costume designer for the play, which gives her the opportunity to blend her passion for theatre, designing and sewing. “I’m just so grateful for the opportunity,” she said with a huge smile. “The experience of going through the process of research, meeting with the director, working with other students and trying to make my ideas and designs come to life has been really, really cool,” she noted.
Williams explained that after initially reading the script, she began gathering her research and attending design meetings. “We talked to the director, the set designer and the lighting designer,” she explained. “My designs evolved over time. It’s a collaborative effort to make the director’s vision come to the stage.”
The actors will be outfitted in a “very 1960s flare,” said Williams. The three stewardesses will each sport a color all their own: blue, red and yellow. The suave Bernard will be styling a cool gray suit, which is “very James Bond-esque,” according to Williams. And Robert, who is from the Midwest, will be dressed “a little dorkier. The girls’ bright, vivacious colors mix well with the guys’ cooler tones,” she said.
The costume-fitting process has been surreal for Williams. “It’s like, Oh my gosh! The design was in my head, and now it’s on her body. It’s such a cool, cool feeling,” she added.
Williams said that costume-design professor Emily Strickland has given her plenty of time to get the job done. “She’s very cognizant that I’m designing a show, so she gives me a lot of time to work on it during the day to make sure that everything gets done.”
Musically, the audience will hear favorites from the early ‘60s and the ‘mod’ scene in Paris at the time.
“The show is fun and really well put together,” said Babitzke. “The audience will laugh the entire time. I guarantee it.”
The cast consists of: Cameron Bartelt as Bernard; Devin Fuentes as Robert; Bella Guzman as Gabriella; Emma Kriausky as Berthe; Brianna Osmond as Gloria; and Emma Stimpson as Gretchen.
The production staff includes: Babitzke, assistant lighting designer and light board operator; Babitzke, Mitchell Collins, J.H. Gallardo, Braden Harrington, Holley IV, Melissa Hund, Osmond, Brittany Posso, Kylee Risdon, John Robinson III and Jeno Tate, carpenters, painters and electricians; Collins, Sarah Cox, Fuentes, Uvenka Jean-Baptiste, Emily Parks, Ritchie Rodriguez and Stimpson, stitchers; Gallardo and Katy Page, cutters/drapers; Megan Haring, production assistant; Harrington and Robinson III, sound board operators; Harrington, assistant technical director and show carpenter; Holley IV, lighting design and master electrician; Tiffany Jordan, costume shop manager; Bethany McLain and Rodriguez, assistant directors; O’Leary, technical director and scenic and lighting design faculty supervisor; Posso, properties master; Risdon, stage manager; Robinson III, sound designer; Grant Rogers and Emily Skinner, assistant stage managers; Strickland, costume design faculty supervisor; Angel Warren, milliner; and Alexa Williams, costume design.
The understudies are: Matias De La Flor, Melissa Gibbs, Campbell Gilliland, Phoebe Knapp, Angelee Ramos and Jenna Rubiano.
Florida School of the Arts is part of the academic and administrative structure of SJR State and awards the two-year associate degree. The School serves the entire state of Florida and is located on the SJR State Palatka campus. For more information, call 386-312-4300 or visit the website at floarts.org.
Now boarding… Florida School of the Arts students Devin Fuentes, Cameron Bartelt, Bella Guzman, Brianna Osmond and Emma Stimpson… on a non-stop flight to the madcap farce, “Boeing-Boeing.” The play runs September 29 - October 1 at 7:30 p.m. and October 2 at 2:30 p.m. on the FloArts main stage, located on the St. Johns River State College Palatka campus.
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