Reviewed by George Basler

The play Boeing Boeing debuted in 1960 at the dawn of the “Swinging Sixties,” and the sex farce reflects the spirit of the time.

The term “Women’s Lib,” let alone “Me Too,” hadn’t been spoken. Instead, the sexual revolution was dawning, Sinatra’s “Rat Pack” was in full swing and Playboy Magazine was all the rage with adolescent males.

The play, which is in the middle of a three-week run at the Chenango River Theatre in Greene, plays the era for laughs, and there are many of them in the CRT production. But the script, written by prolific French playwright Marc Camoletti, also has its slow spots and is often just moderately amusing instead of reaching the true hilarity of a first-rate farce.

The plot, in keeping with all farces, is illogical and supremely silly. Bernard (Donovan Stanfield) is a swinging bachelor living in Paris, who is juggling love affairs with three airline stewardesses (does anyone still use that term?). With the aid of his grumbling Gallic housekeeper (Dori May Ganisin), the lothario keeps up the charade because the three stewardesses are on different schedules.

What can go wrong? Plenty when the airlines change their schedules, and all three young women show up in his apartment at the same time. This happens as Bernard’s old friend Robert (Jeff Haffner) — an uptight, totally square Midwesterner — arrives unannounced for a visit.

One of Boeing Boeing’s cleverest plot points is that the two men’s personalities switch places as the play progresses. The self-assured Bernard becomes a quivering bowl of jelly while trying to juggle his three paramours. Robert, on the other hand, becomes bolder and warms to Bernard’s lifestyle, even locking lips with one of Bernard’s three lady loves.

Stanfield effectively conveys Bernard’s smug attitude at the start of the play. The character is less a leering satyr and more a man who is excessively proud of his own cleverness. That is until his master plan unravels, and he gets a humbling comeuppance. Stanfield plays the transition with a good sense of pace and body language.

Haffner gives a deft deadpan performance as Robert, who transitions from Midwestern naivety to aspiring ladies’ man over the course of two acts. His low-key demeanor fits the character well.  Haffner also skillfully handles moments of comic maneuvering as he works to keep the stewardesses blissfully unaware of each other while also “making time” with one of the lovelies.

As presented, the three stewardesses are classic stereotypes. Gloria (Alondra Hughes) is a pushy American. Gabriella (Joelle Smith) is a romantic Italian. Gretchen (Melody Ladd) is an over-officious German.

But, while they are stereotypes, Boeing Boeing, to its credit, does not present them as vapid bimbos. They are feisty women who know what they want and end up getting it.

The three actresses play their roles with pizzazz. Ladd especially stands out as the German fly girl. She’s a hilarious force of nature as her character alternates between flirting with Robert to yelling orders in a voice that resembles a Teutonic prison guard who is having a bad day.

Ganisin as the exasperated housekeeper drops humorously caustic remarks as she works to keep track of Bernard’s peripatetic lifestyle. Having her remember to switch the girlfriends’ photos as they come, and go, from the apartment is a nice comic touch.

Boeing Boeing has its funny moments. Drew Kahl does a solid job directing the CRT production, and the cast gives technically accomplished performances.

Still, despite their best efforts, the play lacks the energy level of a top-notch farce. For one thing, Camoletti takes too long a time setting up the action. For another thing, his pacing drags at times, and the play takes on the feeling of a mediocre television sitcom.

Or maybe the whole set-up is too out of sync with today’s standards.

Still, Boeing Boeing, taken for what it is, provides a good time. It doesn’t soar to the stratosphere but flies along at a pleasant cruising speed.

A special mention goes to Justin Hooper, scenic designer, who created the garish set of Bernard’s bachelor apartment. Barbara Kahl also deserves credit for her technicolor stewardesses’ costumes straight out of the 1960s.

IF YOU GO: Chenango River Theatre has opened its 2024 season with the farce Boeing Boeing, running through June 8 at its theater at 991 State Highway 12, Greene. Performances will be presented at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets at $30 can be purchased at or by calling the 24-hour box office line at 607-656-8499. Free tickets for high school and college students are available at all evening performances. Email for reservations.