Tony Award winner Christine Baranski also makes a landing in the comedy by French playwright Marc Camoletti, translated by Beverley Cross and Francis Evans for a smash London run some 40 years ago. The much-produced play ran briefly on Broadway and blossomed in theatres around the country.
Saucy Baranski (Broadway's The Real Thing, Rumors, The House of Blue Leaves) doesn't play one of the three international "air hostesses" juggled by Whitford's architect character, Bernard. She's the maid, Berthe, in his Paris apartment, which teems with activity.
The comedy was a recent Olivier Award-nominated West End hit in a revival directed by Matthew Warchus (The Lord of the Rings, Broadway's recent Life x 3, Follies and True West) and starred Olivier Award nominee Mark Rylance as a school chum of Robert's who comes for a visit. Both repeat their duties for the otherwise recast Broadway staging, which officially opens May 4.
In addition to Whitford (TV's "The West Wing," "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip," Broadway's A Few Good Men, Off-Broadway's Three Days of Rain), the Boeing-Boeing cast features Gina Gershon (Broadway's recent Cabaret and the films "Bound" and "Showgirls") as Italian flight attendant Gabriella, Kathryn Hahn (a Williamstown Theatre Festival vet, making her Broadway debut) as flight attendant Gloria and Mary McCormack (Broadway's recent Cabaret, TV's "The West Wing") as German flight attendant Gretchen. Pippa Pearthree and Ray Virta are understudies.
In Boeing-Boeing, according to the producers, "an architect living in Paris (Whitford) has been successfully juggling three flight attendant fiancées (Gershon, Hahn and McCormack) with his housekeeper (Baranski) reluctantly playing romantic air-traffic controller as they fly in and out of his swank bachelor pad. But when an old school pal (Rylance) visits, things get rather turbulent. Schedules change, flights are delayed and chaos ensues in this whirl of mayhem and matchmaking." The production features scenic and costume design by Rob Howell, lighting design by Hugh Vanstone, sound design by Simon Baker, original music by Claire Van Kampen and a curtain call staged by Kathleen Marshall (Wonderful Town, The Pajama Game). William Joseph Barnes is stage manager. Deborah Hecht is dialect coach.
Boeing-Boeing originally opened in London in the early '60s and held the world record for the longest-running comedy in the West End, playing over 2,000 performances. It transferred to Broadway for a brief 23-performance run in 1965, but later took off as a licensable property in theatres around the U.S. (many know it as a dinner-theatre staple). John Rich directed the film version starring Tony Curtis and Jerry Lewis.
The recent London production was also nominated for an Olivier for Best Revival. Rylance is the respected British actor and director who, as artistic director of London's Globe Theatre for a decade, is renowned for bringing Shakespeare to fresh life. He recently starred in the Guthrie Theatre production of Peer Gynt.
Camoletti, who died in 2003, was a Geneva-born French citizen who penned more than 40 plays, including Don't Dress for Dinner, another smash in London. Boeing-Boeing was his first international success and is one of the most-performed French plays in the world.
Cross (1931-1998) wrote the plays One More River, directed by Laurence Olivier in 1959, and Strip the Willow, which made his future wife, Maggie Smith, a star. He also wrote the book for the musical Half a Sixpence and the screenplay of "Jason and the Argonauts."
Evans is a translator who lives in London.
The Broadway production of Boeing-Boeing is produced by Sonia Friedman Productions, Bob Boyett, ACT Productions, Matthew Byam Shaw, Robert G. Bartner, Susan Gallin, Mary Lu Roffe, Broadway Across America, Tulchin/Jenkins/DSM and The Araca Group.
The Longacre Theatre is located in Manhattan at 220 West 48th Street. For ticket information visit telecharge.com or BoeingOnBroadway.com.