Stephen Frankenfield wants your stomach to hurt. He also hopes you’ll be almost too tired to get up from your seat.
In short, he wants you to laugh — really hard — at “Boeing Boeing.” Frankenfield is directing the Live Theatre Workshop production, which opens in previews tonight.
“I love farcical comedies,” he says. “If they are done well, they are very crowd-pleasing, and that’s OK. Audiences will come and laugh and leave and remember the laughter — that’s why I love doing them so much.”
“Boeing Boeing” is a trip back to the 1960s, when the sexual revolution was exploding and dapper bachelors thought nothing about juggling several women at once.
It takes place in a Paris apartment, where our swinging bachelor has his affairs with three different stewardesses scheduled out perfectly. Each is convinced she is the only one — and why not? He’s engaged to all three. Then jet travel accelerates and that schedule goes to pieces. His balancing act becomes one just for survival.
Frankenfield has performed in a number of farces on the LTW stage, and has directed a few, as well. He knows what needs to be done.
“Farce is a lot like a dance,” he says.
“I let the actors feel out their movements, then we tweak it and move things about. If there’s any point at any angle that it doesn’t feel like a dance, then I know there’s something wrong.”
But he doesn’t think much can go wrong in “Boeing Boeing.” If nothing else, the time period it’s set in will be enough to set people off, he says.
“Some look back with admiration on the ’60s, others with revulsion, but it’s fun to watch. I think that era really adds something to the play. And there will be some cringes when the audience comes into the theater” and recognizes the colors and trends that defined the ’60s.
If the play sounds familiar, perhaps it’s because Arizona Repertory Theatre staged it earlier this season.
But don’t expect a repeat, says Frankenfield, who actively decided against seeing the ART production.
“What’s great about theater is that every cast and director will approach a play differently,” he says. “We’re trying to make it our own while still staying true to the script.”
He’s banking on the LTW audiences falling in love with the promise of laughter.
“Sometimes it’s just fun to go to the theater and laugh,” he says. “I want the audience’s stomach to hurt; I want them to be tired when they leave. Literally tired from laughing.”