Swinging bachelor, swinging doors in "Boeing, Boeing" at Olympia Little Theatre

Creative staging in ‘Boeing, Boeing’, a farce about a man engaged to three flight attendants

Contributing writerMarch 21, 2014 

“Boeing, Boeing” begins Friday at Olympia Little Theatre.


Farces can have a fantastical quality.

It’s almost as if there’s an alternate universe where people never communicate directly, where they pretend to be doing one thing in a most transparent way while instead doing another (or two or three others), where no one asks a simple question and gets a simple answer.

And in this universe, there tends to be a lot of doors.

Both the fantastic and the doors are big elements of “Boeing, Boeing,” opening this weekend at Olympia Little Theatre.

The play — which became a 1965 film with Tony Curtis and Jerry Lewis and had a Tony-winning revival on Broadway in 2008 — follows the adventures of a swinging bachelor who has three fiancées rotating through his life on a carefully planned timetable: They’re all flight attendants.

In farcical fashion, things go amusingly awry — in this case, when a super-fast new plane throws off flight schedules and all three fiancées show up at the same time.

“The first challenge was the requirement for seven doors on stage,” said set designer Matt Moeller. “That’s a lot of doors for any set to handle, and putting it on in such a small space, it became obvious we couldn’t have seven doors.”

“I drew it out to see could we fit seven doors,” he added, “and yeah, we could, but the doors would be right next to each other.”

“He staggered them up and down in a vertical plane, so we could have had little steps going up,” said Kathryn Beall, the play’s director and the theater’s artistic manager. “It looked like a really narrow, skinny brownstone.”

“We thought, ‘Well, let’s file the idea for some even more absurd play,’” Moeller said.

So he and Beall settled on four doors across the back of the stage — still pretty crowded in the small theater. Other entrances happen from the lobby, a device that the theater company often uses to add to the three-dimensional feeling of its productions.

With function settled, Moeller turned his attention to style.

“We went with a very mod, pop type of approach,” he said. “Everything we’re using in the design is a circle, a half-circle or a square. It’s very geometric.”

“The boldness of the colors and the patterns surprises me,” he added. “It’s like, ‘Wow, I didn’t know I could do something like that or that I would do something like that.’”

The bold colors, though, are just accents.

The set — and the costumes of the male actors — are mostly in shades of gray and black, with colorful pillows and other accessories matched to the colorful outfits of the flight attendant fiancées.

That’s right: As a different woman comes into the living room of Bernard’s Paris apartment, the room gets a new look.

Bernard gets help from his maid, Berthe, and his friend Robert, visiting from Wisconsin. But the revolving door is a lot to manage.

“We ran the whole play from top to bottom yesterday,” Beall said Monday. “It’s funny to see what’s going to go wrong next and who’s going to pop out.”

When all three women are in the apartment, one is always coming out the room she’s going back in just in time for another to emerge.

“It’s like a tag-team wrestling match,” she said. “The guys never get a rest.”

Boeing, Boeing

What: One man, one apartment and three fiancées — that’s the setup for Marc Camoletti’s “Boeing, Boeing,” in its opening weekend at Olympia Little Theatre.

When: 7:55 p.m. Friday and Saturday, plus March 27-29 and April 3-5, 11 and 12; matinees at 1:55 p.m. March 30 and April 6 and 13

Where: Olympia Little Theatre, 1925 Miller Ave. NE, Olympia

Tickets: $10-$14 at olympialittletheatre.org, at Yenney Music and at the door

More information: 360-786-9484 or olympialittletheatre.org

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