The Arena Dinner Theatre’s production of Boeing Boeing shows just how fun it can be to mix business with pleasure. It starts with the cast, who like their characters, are linked in more ways than one.
Boeing Boeing director Christopher Murphy says that the cast is made up of a close circle of his friends, including his wife, Emilie. The two were married Dec. 1 with most of the cast involved in their wedding.
Genuinely, they are the most talented group of people I know, Murphy says. It makes for a safe working environment, which makes it a creative environment.
The play is named for the Boeing plane, which was released as a modern jetliner by the aerospace company of the same name in the early 1960s and was designed to get passengers to their destinations faster than ever before. However, for an American playboy juggling three flight-attendant fiancées, the Jet Age made life much more complicated.
The play centers on Bernard, an American living in Paris, who has convinced three flight-attendants – one American, one German and one Italian – that she is the only one. But when an old friend and a Boeing plane get involved, calamity ensues.
This play really has good bones to it, director Murphy says. It’s just uproariously funny from beginning to end.
The Murphys began to prepare for the play on their honeymoon. Murphy says this is the first play where he’s had to direct Mrs. Murphy as his wife, who auditioned for her role as American stewardess Gloria.
I can’t go home, crawl into bed and give her notes about her performance, Murphy says. But we all have a terrific time together.
Jim Nelson, who plays Robert, Bernard’s old friend from Wisconsin, says personal relationships make rehearsals an easier process.
We know what to expect, Nelson says. We come prepared to work. It doesn’t really take a lot to get into a sort of groove.
Boeing Boeing was a Broadway flop in 1965, but the 2009 revival garnered rave reviews, which put the play in demand for regional and local theaters.
We have been trying to do this play for four years now, Murphy says. It had a very successful revival, so they froze the rights. We wound up doing its sequel instead.
The sequel, Don’t Dress for Dinner, had a successful run at Arena Dinner Theatre, and three seasons later, Murphy was finally able to get the rights for the original show.
We’re only the second theater in Indiana to get the rights, Murphy says.
Murphy says for those who saw Don’t Dress for Dinner, Boeing Boeing will serve as a prequel, reuniting the Bernard and Robert characters, but the director says the show isn’t dependent on the previous production.
We really looked at this play on its own, Murphy says.
Suzan Moriarty, who plays Bernard’s fed-up housekeeper, Berthe, says that the friendship the cast shares makes this show even stronger.
The best part of working in the show is the people that I’m working with, Moriarty says. When we’re actually onstage, there’s a secure feeling. When someone forgets a line, there’s someone right there to back you up.