'Boeing, Boeing'
Graphic illustration by Dan Talsky, daniel.talsky@journaltimes.com, using artwork from Racine Theatre Guild

Bernard is a swinging bachelor with three fiancees, each one a stewardess with a different airline and all of them blissfully unaware of each other, in the Racine Theatre Guild’s season opener, “Boeing, Boeing.”

With careful planning, Bernard has managed to keep his juggling act afloat — until one evening when Gabriella, Gretchen and Gloria all arrive in town at the same time and, in traditional farce fashion, chaos ensues as he tries to regain control of the situation with help from his maid, Berthe, and his friend, Robert.

Written by French playwright Marc Camoletti (and translated by Beverly Cross and Francis Evans), “Boeing, Boeing” is rooted in the culture of the 1960s, which is when it was first staged at the Apollo Theater in London’s West End. Yet its humor has enough staying power to win it a Tony Award for Best Revival of a Play in 2008, for its Broadway revival.

“It is just a lot of fun,” said Doug Instenes, RTG managing/artistic director.

The Theatre Guild’s production of this classic, physical comedy is directed by Amber Smith (who performed the play with the Milwaukee Chamber Theatre in 2015), and features Matt Specht at Bernard, Eric Welch as Robert, Julia Jaskulske as Gabriella, Katie Kowbel at Gretchen, Megan Seager at Gloria and Laura McDonald as Berthe. It opens on Friday, Sept. 15, and runs weekends through Sunday, Oct. 1.

More than laughs

“Boeing, Boeing” is the first of five shows to come in the RTG’s 2017/18 regular season, which is the 80th for the community theater, located at 2519 Northwestern Ave. The rest of the season — which also offers a couple limited-run bonus shows — features everything from a comedy whose lead character is a cat to the popular musical “Sister Act,” with a score by Alan Menken.

The feline, Samantha, stars in “Indoor/Outdoor,” a play by Kenny Finkle that Instenes said is “adorable,” but also offers more than laughs.

It opens in October and Instenes said “What it’s really about is relationships and communication, and taking people for granted. It gives you something to think about.”

Newly released works

“Indoor/Outdoor” will be followed in January by “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike,” a tongue-in-cheek take on the work of Russian playwright Anton Chekhov written by Christopher Durang. Vanya and Sonia are living mundane lives when their movie-star sister, Masha, shows up with her younger, crazier boyfriend, and the three very different siblings find themselves reflecting on life and the circumstances that have brought them together.

Those familiar with Chekhov will get the references, but you don’t need to be in order to enjoy the play because it is a broad comedy, Instenes said. “It’s just a hoot.”

It is also one of two recently released plays that haven’t been available to community theaters before, that will be performed by the RTG this season, he said. “We’re one of the first people to get the rights to this.”

The other recent release is “A Comedy of Tenors,” which will open in February. This evening of “sheer joy” is a sequel to “Lend Me a Tenor,” which the RTG performed last year, and was written by the playwright, Ken Ludwig, more than 20 years after the original play, Instenes said.

“It’s kind of fun to find out what happened to these people after all this time,” he said.

Bonus shows, too

The last of the regular-season shows, running in May, is “Sister Act,” a musical comedy that audiences may be familiar with from its 1992 movie version. It follows the adventures of Deloris Van Cartier as she goes from being a sultry lounge singer to becoming Sister Mary Clarence in a choir of nuns in a convent. It not only offers a lot of great gospel music, but a great story, Instenes said. And this production will feature some of the Guild’s many “very talented ladies.”

The rest of the RTG’s 80th season also offers two bonus shows, “A Christmas Carol: The Musical” in December, and “The Boxcar Children” in April. This version of Charles Dickens’ beloved Christmas tale is all new to the Theatre Guild, Instenes said, and features music by Alan Menken. And while the “The Boxcar Children,” by Barbara Field, is based on the popular children’s book by Gertrude Chandler Warner, it is a great, heartfelt story for all ages about the importance of family.

The schedule for the 2017/18 season is as follows:

Sept. 15 – Oct. 1:

  • “Boeing, Boeing”

Oct. 20 – Nov. 5:

  • “Indoor/Outdoor.”

Dec. 1-17:

  • “A Christmas Carol: The Musical”

Jan. 12 – 28, 2018:

  • “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike”

Feb. 23 – March 11, 2018

  • – “A Comedy of Tenors”

April 6-15, 2018:

  • “The Boxcar Children”

May 11-27, 2018:

  • “Sister Act”

Showtimes vary according to production and day. Season subscription packages, including all five regular season shows, are available until Oct. 1 and range in price from $55 to $75, depending on show time. Flex passes, which allow buyers to customize their own ticket package, combining both regular season and bonus shows, start at $80 for five shows and go up to $118 for eight.

Tickets to individual shows cost $18 for plays and $20 for musicals, with discounts available for seniors, students and shows on value nights. They are available online at www.racinetheatre.org and at the Racine Theatre Guild box office, 2519 Northwestern Ave., from noon to 6 p.m. weekdays and 90 minutes prior to each performance. Call 262-633-4218 for information.

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