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Boeing Boeing

A high-caliber cast -- including Hunter Foster, John Scherer, and Cady Huffman -- brings to life Cape Playhouse's fast and funny production of Marc Camoletti's 1960 French farce.

By Cape Cod
John Scherer, Hunter Foster, and Heather Parcells
in Boeing Boeing
(© Kathleen A. Fahle)
John Scherer, Hunter Foster, and Heather Parcells
in Boeing Boeing
(© Kathleen A. Fahle)
If you're fond of fart jokes and racy fare, the venerable Cape Playhouse picked a pip with which to wrap up its 83rd season. Marc Camoletti's 1960 French farce Boeing Boeing seems custom-designed for the strawhat circuit. Although the play initially bombed upon crossing the pond, it now, thanks to the haze lent by nostalgia, comes across as fast and funny -- if about as filling as a tuft of cotton candy.

Cape Playhouse has attracted a high-caliber cast: Hunter Foster (on brief leave from Broadway's Million Dollar Quartet) as the smug Bernard, an architect sitting pretty in Paris while juggling a trio of stewardess girlfriends; Heather Parcells, Jennifer Cody, and Cady Huffman as his bevy of, respectively, American, Italian, and German flight attendants; and John Scherer as Robert, the visiting Wisconsin acquaintance who starts out mighty impressed by Bernard's harem -- until it falls to him to prevent a pile-up.

Under James Brennan's scrupulous direction, the multiple doors in Richard Chambers' attractive set (French provincial crossed with Mod, to suit an update to swinging 1970) pop open and shut with impressive precision. It's hard not to play favorites among Bernard's beauties, even if he tries not to: whenever he's tempted to give one a present, for instance, he feels obliged to gift all three -- and how handy, in terms of monogramming, that all their names begin with 'G.'

As Gloria, the brassy American (whose accent further pinpoints her as from Long - hard 'g' - Island), Parcells is a kittenish princess. There's no question but that, should she ever acquire the wedding ring to go with the promissory diamond that Bernard has bestowed on all his "fiancées," she'll soon ascend to full lioness. Gloria subscribes to a woman's right to rule the roost, as she vehemently advises Robert, in between passionate "experimental" smooches prompted by his irresistible cuteness (it truly is) in pronouncing the mouth-pooching phrase "It's not impossible."

Cody's Gabriella is pretty tough, too, in the streetwise Italian mamma mode. The actress has got the bellicose swagger and the emphatic gesticulation down, along with the innate musicality that informs Gabriella's threatening tones whenever her distrust is aroused.

But in terms of sheer aggression, Huffman's Gretchen takes the cake. (Huffman has a distinguished history playing Teutonic: her turn as Ulla in The Producers won her a Tony.) She scarcely barks a word without pointing a finger accusatorily, and her handshake can reduce strong men to whimpering wimps.

Most of the reaction takes fall to Scherer's Robert, because Bertrand is far too busy arranging and attending assignations. Scherer is a brilliant physical comedian, especially when it comes to the digestive discomfort occasioned by Gretchen's insistence that Robert share her enthusiasm for sauerkraut. Good luck withstanding Scherer's antics -- Huffman herself has trouble not cracking up.


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