By Josette Keelor
Theater for every age will take the stage locally this month, with the comedic but adult farce "Boeing Boeing" at Wayside Theatre in Middletown, the musical "Fiddler on the Roof" at The Schultz Theatre in New Market, and the junior version of "Disney's Beauty and the Beast" at Winchester Little Theatre in Winchester.
In Wayside Theatre's "Boeing Boeing," a 1960s comedic farce about a man trying to juggle (without their knowledge) his three stewardess fiancées, American bachelor Bernard thinks he is pretty clever.
Gretchen, Gabriella and Gloria each fly for different international airlines and have stopovers in Paris at times he has carefully anticipated. So how could Bernard not keep up his ruse to great success, especially with his friend at the airport finding eligible dates for him? Well, he doesn't count on Boeing Airlines crashing his plans by introducing faster international flights that change the three women's flight schedules.
"It's starting to become a little more chaotic," said Don Denton, who plays Bernard. But he's not going to admit to anything he doesn't have to. With friend Robert, played by Daniel Westbrook, helping him out, and French maid Berta, played by Shirley Proctor, Bernard might just succeed in diverting the three women before they uncover his deception.
As Berta, Proctor said, "I am his rather unwilling accomplice. He inherited me when he bought the apartment." She's interested enough in keeping her job to go along with his plans, however begrudgingly.
Said Denton, "There's a lot of dramatic irony in this show. [Berta is] not an innocent party, but she is doing her job."
Gretchen, played by Theresa McGuirk is an "overly enthusiastic" and "passionate" German stewardess.
Italian Gabriella, played by Karen O'Connell, "really really loves Bernard and wants to settle down."
Then there's Gloria, the American air hostess, played by Leslie Putnam.
"Gloria is caught in the trap just like the others, but she has a little game going on her own," Putnam said.
Bernard's old school friend Robert becomes another unwilling accomplice, Westbrook said.
According to director Warner Crocker, farces are comedies taken to the extreme, involving characters who never stop to think and say "stop" when plans unravel in outlandishly ways. The laughs keep going because of the fast-paced dialogue and action that often involve numerous props -- in the case of this show, the several doors built into the set, through which characters come and go in quick succession; and the photo frames of the three separate fiancées that Robert and Bernard rotate with each new unexpected arrival.
The key to a good farce, Crocker said, is "you never have time to think, you must act."
Denton agreed, "The timing of a farce is more important than the timing of a musical."
Putnam called it "a machine."
The last big farce that Wayside did was "Unnecessary Farce" in 2008, Crocker said, but "Boeing Boeing" isn't for everyone. It has a PG-13 rating for sexual innuendo, he said.
"It really is high-flying fun," he said. "It just, literally, once it starts, it does not stop."
"Boeing Boeing" lands at Wayside Theatre this weekend, with performances beginning at 2:30 and 6:30 p.m. Saturday and at 6:30 p.m. Sunday. The play will continue at 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and at 2:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday until Aug. 11. Tickets range from $20 to $30, and are $10 for children 5 to 17. Children under 5 are not admitted. Wayside Theatre is located at 7853 Main St., Middletown. For more information, call 540-869-1776 or visit www.waysidetheatre.org.
The Schultz Theatre
This month, The Schultz Theatre in New Market will take on "Fiddler on the Roof," a musical by Joseph Stein, Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick that tells the story of Tevye, a poor dairyman raising his five daughters in a tightly knit Jewish community in Czarist Russia.
With favorites like "If I Were a Rich Man," "Sunrise Sunset" and "Matchmaker," "Fiddler" has been a Broadway favorite for decades.
"Fiddler" runs from July 12 to 21 at The Schultz Theatre, at 9357 N. Congress St., New Market. Showings will be at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Ticket prices are $10 for adults and $8 for students and seniors in advance, or $12 and $10 at the door. For more information, call 540-740-9119 or visit www.schultztheatre.com.
Winchester Little Theatre
The WLT for Kids program will offer its second summer musical this month, with "Disney's Beauty and the Beast Jr." taking the stage July 20, said director Sara Gomez.
"This is the official Disney musical," Gomez said. It's just a little shorter, that's all.
The two act play with one intermission tells the story of Belle, a French country peasant whose typical day involves rebuffing the advances of her suitor Gaston, instead seeking solace with her true love -- her books. When her father Maurice becomes lost in the woods he seeks shelter in an old castle, but the master of the castle, a beast, takes him prisoner. Belle gives up her own freedom in place of her father's, but she soon discovers that the beast isn't all he seems to be.
Playing opposite twins Taylor Bloom as Gaston and Michael Bloom as the beast, Zoe Thomas returns to WLT as Belle.
All three teen actors starred in last summer's musical "Honk! Jr.," but Gomez said a good 40 percent of this summer's performers are new to WLT for Kids.
"It always seems to work out that we have a nice mix of ages, boys and girls, as well as new and returning kids," Gomez said.
"The kids in this program cannot be in both shows because of the schedule," she said. This summer's two shows allowed for 50 children to participate.
"We did two princess shows," she said. "We call it the year of the princesses."
Because this summer's first production, "Cinderella," sold out most of its performances, Gomez recommended buying tickets early.
"Beauty and the Beast Jr." will run from July 20 to 27, with two performances every day except Monday. Performances are at 2:30 and 7 p.m. Tuesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and at 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday. Tickets are $10 per person. For more information, call 662-3331 or visit www.wltonline.org.
Contact Community Engagement Editor Josette Keelor at 540-465-5137, ext. 176, or firstname.lastname@example.org