The Long-lived Boeing-Boeing
The women in this production are bursting with sex appeal--their craft, of which they're justly proud, is being able to land any man, under any circumstance, and they're helped along by marvelous costuming. Who can resist the juxtaposition of uniforms and slinky lingerie? The men (there are two) are saddled with the problem endemic to Sixties drama. Marooned in a decade that testosterone forgot, they're hardly worth the trouble the women take to land them.
Doors slam as three stewardesses (and the maid) strut their period stuff with great glee: Gloria (Stacie Hadgikosti) is an American working for TWA, modeled perhaps on Doris Day with earnest, round eyes and a pouty mouth. Then there's Gabriella (Rhiannon Ragland) working for Alitalia, channeling Sophia Loren, with her molten sensuality and quicksilver flashes of anger. And finally, Gretchen, played with comic genius by Charlyn Swarthout, who clearly bases her character on Dr. Strangelove as she stomps around the apartment barefoot wearing her Lufthansa uniform. "Chominy!" is how she pronounces her homeland, with a Doberman-like snarl, and she pronounces it frequently, often trailing off her voice to a whisper, narrowing her eyes, and purring "yah..." It's Swartout's delirious reveling in insanity for insanity's sake that floats this delicate two-act soap bubble of silliness to its conclusion a second or two before it becomes irretrievably ridiculous.
Boeing-Boeing continues its run at the Purple Rose through Saturday, August 28.
[Originally published in August, 2010.]