This is how good an actor Michael Calvoni is:
He can make a creaky French farce fresh and very, very funny.
The University of Arizona senior plays the nerdy Robert in Arizona Repertory Theatre’s production of “Boeing Boeing.”
Robert stops in at Bernard’s (Parker Janecek) eloquent Paris apartment just to say hi to his old friend. And he steps into a mess: Bernard is a philanderer who is juggling three women, all airline stewardesses.And all engaged to Bernard. It’s 1960, and faster jets have hit the scene, so suddenly the time the women are in Paris overlaps.
This has put Bernard in a frenzied state and astounds Robert, who has yet to kiss a woman. But he’s a fast learner.
Calvoni is a wonderful physical actor. He was like liquid, smoothly diving, tumbling and tripping across the stage. He completely possessed this character who discovers things about women — and himself — that he never fathomed.
Sharing a stage with him has got to be a challenge, but this cast of students were up for it. Lindsey Mony as the surly French maid Berthe was a stitch as she rolled her eyes and snarled at the other characters. Janecek cut the ideal early ’60s suave guy, with a trim haircut and an ascot. And the three stewardesses — Sammie Lideen as Gretchen, from Germany; Silvia Vannoy, Gloria, from the American south, and Carli Naff, the Italian Gabriella — displayed exquisite timing, the most necessary ingredient for a successful farce.
The Marc Camoletti play is thin on story and characterization. No matter, it’s the humor and awkward situations that make up many farces.
Director Brent Gibbs got that, and had no problem inserting tons of sight gags. The result is a play that’s a hoot.
The set of Bernard’s apartment, designed by UA senior Taryn Wintersteen, packed a wallop. It had plenty of windows, art and six doors which opened and closed with some frequency (otherwise, really, it wouldn’t be a farce).
“Boeing Boeing” is far funnier than the script deserves. Credit for that goes to the director and actors, especially Calvoni.