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Up in the air: "Boeing Boeing" opens at Paul Bunyan Playhouse

MONTE DRAPER | BEMIDJI PIONEER Actor Michael Lee receives a lot of attention from (from left) Sarah Gibson, Katherine Thieben-Holt and Bonni Allen in the new Paul Bunyan Playhouse production "Boeing Boeing," a comedy farce that starts tonight and runs through Sunday and also July 24-27.

BEMIDJI -- Artistic director Zach Curtis gives the audience a first-class ticket to fun in Marc Camoletti's hilarious, classic '60s comedy, "Boeing Boeing," opening tonight at the Chief Theater in downtown Bemidji.

Having recently enjoyed Broadway and London revivals, "Boeing Boeing" is a hit worldwide.

So pull on your bell bottoms, pick some daisies and find your seat during the two-week run of this summertime romp through the swinging doors of love.

For most, balancing love and all of its complications just between two can be difficult, even impossible. In "Boeing Boeing," our hip bachelor Bernard, an American architect living in Paris played with just the right amount of charm by Michael Lee, balancing love with three beautiful flight attendants all engaged to be him -- well, it's just a matter of good organization.

The lovely ladies and would-be wives in this romantic farce include the love-crazed American TWA flight attendant Gloria, slightly loony as played by Katherine Tieben-Holt and Al-Italia's gift is the torrid and fiery Gabriella, tempestuously done by Bonni Allen. And last, but certainly not least, compliments of Lufthansa, we have blonde and battle-ready Gretchen, commandingly played by Sarah Gibson.

Bachelor Bernard is assisted in this duplicitous undertaking by keeping meticulous and up-to-the-minute flight plans as provided by his gorgeous fiancées' respective airlines, talking to one very cooperative airline employee and finally, employing a wry French maid, Berthe who reluctantly plays romantic air-traffic controller as the stewardesses fly in and out of Bernard's swank bachelor pad. Although dedicated to her employer, Berthe spends most of her time questioning his sanity and menu choices.

Bernard's efforts prove successful in his quest for love around the clock, at least for a time -- and successful enough to win the respect and begrudging envy of his visiting friend Robert from Wisconsin, played by Randall Funk. Although slightly envious of the beautiful women from other countries who find Bernard's charms too difficult to resist, Funk imbues Robert with such nervous believability that one can almost see his legs shaking while he denies any thought of adopting such a swinging lifestyle for his own.

While bemoaning the fact that in "quiet" Wisconsin there are "no pretty women," Robert is convinced this crazy scheme cannot work and then spends a large chunk of his time and energy helping it do exactly that.

Robert is helped along in this endeavor by Berthe, flippantly played by Jane Hammill. Her disapproving comments on her employer's lifestyle spotlight what will soon be a rapidly growing disaster and very quickly, things do begin to go awry. Airline schedules change, the weather becomes uncooperative, engines fly faster and in the ensuing chaos -- most of which has to do with keeping the three fiancées apart -- there are more fast and furious entrances and exits through the various doors than one can keep up with.

Each of these characters is over-the-top and exaggerated in their individual poses and pursuits on the stage and it definitely makes for the best flight around.

So, grab your passport and get ready to fly high during this Paul Bunyan Playhouse production of "Boeing Boeing."

The play is directed by Zach Curtis, stage managed by Teresa McGriff, with lighting design by Michael Frohling, costume design by A. Emily Heaney, property design by McGriff and scenic design by Justin Hooper.

Performances of "Boeing Boeing" are underwritten by Forestedge Winery and Keg & Cork and made possible, in part, by a grant from the Region 2 Arts Council.

The show opens at 8 tonight in the Historic Chief Theater in downtown Bemidji, continuing through July 27. Tickets for all performances are $22 for adults and $10 for students, with a 2 p.m. matinee Sunday featuring $18 tickets. All tickets may be purchased through the Box Office at (218) 751-7270, online at or on the Chief Theater or Paul Bunyan Playhouse Facebook pages.

If you go

What: "Boeing Boeing"

Where: Historic Chief Theater, downtown Bemidji

When: 8 p.m., except for 2 p.m. Sunday matinee.

Tickets: $22 for adults and $10 for students; Sunday matinee features $18 tickets. All tickets may be purchased at the Box Office at (218) 751-7270, online at or on the Chief Theater or Paul Bunyan Playhouse Facebook pages.