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Cultural Park Theater's "Boeing Boeing" Sticks the Landing

The cast of CPT's Boeing Boeing
Tom Hall
The cast of CPT's Boeing Boeing

Opening September 8th at Cultural Park Theater in the Cape is Marc Camoletti’s Boeing Boeing, a farce that delivers split-second comedic timing, frenetic pacing and, course, a whole lot of slamming doors.

At the center of the action is a wealthy American architect by the name of Bernard, who maintains luxurious digs within view of the Eiffel Tower in gay Paree. When a friend unexpectedly drops by to say hello, Bernard boasts that he’s engaged to not one, but three flight attendants - a New Yorker named Gloria who flies with TWA, a hot Italian by the name of Gabriella who is employed by Alitalia, and a seething, saucy German named Gretchen who works for Lufthansa.

Walking Robert to a globe on a nearby end table, Bernard smugly describes how by monitoring the airlines’ routes and schedules, he and his trusty housekeeper are able to keep each girl in the dark about the other two women with the precision of air traffic controllers. But when Boeing introduces its new turbo-charged air bus, Bernard’s best laid plans crash and burn.

Most reviews of this high-flying farce focus on the playboy architect and his button-down buddy from the farmlands of Wisconsin. But the real story here is what Camoletti thought of German, Italian and American women when he wrote his script in 1965. Rosie DeLeon, who plays the American, makes this astute observation.

“He starts talking immediately about just how beautiful they all are. It’s just very surface level things like. And the way we’re all king of playing these characters are very much caricatures. They’re not even real women. They’re kind of like exaggerations. There’s no one out there like these three women, and it’s very much like a caricature, I would say.”

For example, Isabel Slattery believes that her character, Gretchen, represents Camoletti’s idea of the typical German woman – organized, rules-oriented and hyper-vigilant.

“I feel like coming from Gretchen, there’s obviously, there seems to be like an air of suspicion around how her set-up is. The reactions of other people. She tends to read into those things a lot and I feel like that’s a lot of the German caricature, being very hyper-observant and it just overall leads into of how bigger than life we all are.”

While Italian women are widely regarded as fiery, in Camoletti’s construction, it’s Gretchen who’s passionate and mercurial. By contrast, Gabriella comes across as ultra-confident and sensual, but a nester at heart. Here’s Jennifer Michelle Toral on her character:

“I definitely don’t want to be one of those Bond girls from back then. I’m, I’m the prize, I guess, in my perspective ….”

But the fact that Bernard steadfastly avoids setting a date keeps Gabriella on edge and makes her more than a little suspicious.

“I notice there’s a letter. It’s not from me. What is this letter? Is it another woman? Or the phone call. I’m wondering, well who was it? Automatically I’m thinking it’s another woman. I’m not trusting him for the fact that he hasn’t married me yet, so what’s going on? My suspicions are already pretty high. Whatever’s off. A phone call that’s off. A letter. Things like that.”

When it comes to American women, Camoletti’s view is that they’re in it just for the money, as Rosie DeLeon’s character Gloria explains in this scene.

“In America, the woman is usually stronger than the man because she can make him do whatever she wants, and he always says yes to her. So she can make the man work his way to total exhaustion … As soon as he stops saying yes, or becomes too … exhausted … we’re off to Reno. Nowadays women can get a divorce in six weeks …. And that means alimony.”

Of course, Boeing Boeing is more than anthropological commentary on the differences between German, Italian and American women. DeLeon, Slattery and Toral want you to know that it’s also side-splitting, zany, escapist entertainment.

Rosie: Short skirts and pretty girls.

Isabel: I mean what’s not to love, you know? Quick scenes, running back and forth, back bends, slamming doors … I mean what’s not to love about the excitement? Live a little bit of Bernard’s life, I suppose.

Jennifer. We got passion. We got love. We got some crazy fights possibly going down. Do we meet each other? Do we not?

All: Is it a cat fight? Is it a brawl? I don’t know? What will happen?

Boeing Boeing plays September 8th through the 17th. Go here for play dates, times and a full cast list.


  • Boeing Boeing playwright Marc Camoletti has been produced more than Moliere, Racine and Yasmina Reza.
  • In 1991, the play was listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the most performed French play throughout the world.
  • Boeing Boeing ran for seven years in the West End.
  • It did not fare as well on Broadway, opening February 2, 1965 and closing after just 23 performances on February 20th, but the revival did much better, opening May 4, 2008 and closing after 279 performances on January 4, 2009.
  • The production won the Best Revival of a Play and Mark Rylance in the role of Robert won the Tony Award for Best Leading Actor. The production was nominated for several other Tony Awards including: Best Featured Actress (Mary McCormack in the role of Gretchen), Best Director (Matthew Warchus), Best Costume Design (Rob Howell) and Best Sound Design (Simon Baker).
  • The production also won the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Revival of a Play, and Mark Rylance won for lead actor in a play.

To read more stories about the arts in Southwest Florida visit Tom Hall's website: SWFL Art in the News.

Spotlight on the Arts for WGCU is funded in part by Naomi Bloom, Jay & Toshiko Tompkins, and Julie & Phil Wade.