Cal Poly Pomona's Department of Theatre and New Dance premiered its production of "Boeing Boeing" at the University Theatre on Friday night.
"Boeing Boeing" is a classic farce that takes place in the 1960s. It is a comedy about Bernard, an American architect and lothario, who juggles his three air hostess fiancés with the help of his French maid, Berthe.
The play begins with the unexpected arrival of Bernard's old friend, Robert. Bernard reveals he is engaged to three beautiful fiancées from different countries in what Robert describes as an "international harem." This includes Gloria, the quirky, feisty American; Gabriella, the passionate Italian; and Gretchen, the aggressive, fiery German. Because of their professions, each fiancée is on a different airline and flight schedule, ensuring the women will never meet.
Chaos ensues, however, when a new and speedier Boeing jet causes timetables to change, leading all three women to be in town simultaneously. This leaves Robert to scramble for excuses on behalf of Bernard and prove that Bernard cannot handle three passionate fiancés at once.
Kevyn Allen, a fourth-year political science student, played the lead role of Bernard. Allen first became interested in acting when he took a theater class for a general education requirement.
"I was planning on going to law school, and then I took an acting class with Professor Kachingwe," explained Allen. "I just loved it, like absolutely loved it. I asked him, ‘What can I do next to act?' And he said, ‘Well you can audition for the play.' So, I tried out for the play, and I got the lead role. I just loved it so much, and I got the part. It's crazy."
Allen says the other theatre students met his presence at the auditions with surprise and curiosity.
"When I first came to audition, everyone was like, ‘Who is Kevyn Allen?'" said Allen. "No one expected a non-theatre major to try out. Political science and theatre are on a completely different spectrum. I'm glad I did it though."
Third-year theatre student Ashley Tripp, who plays Gloria, attributes Allen landing the role to him getting out of his comfort zone.
"I had auditioned with [Allen], and the director said he wanted people who were okay with touching and just going for it," explained Tripp.
The director asked Allen to smack Tripp on her rear, which Allen did after briefly being introduced to Tripp.
"I think he was one of the only guys who was okay with it, and the director saw that and wanted him in the show," said Tripp. "I was totally cool with him being a political science major because he had it. You just have to have the passion for it; you don't have to be a theatre major to audition for a show and get the part. He didn't think he was going to get the part at all."
The play reached its comedic peak when Robert comically struggled to form excuses on behalf of Bernard so that the fiancées do not discover one another.
"I noticed that Bernard is the lead role, but the main role is Robert," said Tripp. "He has to have experiences with all the girls, and it puts him through all that hell. He controls most of the situation because Bernard is not used to the chaos."
But it was not the lead role that interested actor Andrew Garcia, who identifies with character Robert.
"Everyone was under the influence that Bernard was the lead," said Garcia, a third-year transfer theatre student. "So everyone was trying out for Bernard. I figured, I'll just try out for Robert, see what I can get with that."
Robert is a charismatic, charming and enthusiastic character. Though he initially appears very nervous and timid, by the end of the play, Robert becomes more bold and sure of himself, even pursuing one of Bernard's fiancées.
"He resembles me, honestly," admits Garcia. "I had people approach me with, ‘Who is your inspiration?' I thought, ‘Honestly, I don't have anyone because he reminds me so much of myself.' So, it was real fun to play this character. I told [the director] Sam all the time, ‘I love Robert. I can connect with him all the time.'"
The play concludes in a few surprising twists, including one in which it is revealed that one of the fiancées may be more like Bernard than he realizes.
"Boeing Boeing" will continue to play in the University Theatre on March 5, 6, and 7 at 8 p.m. and March 8 at 2 p.m. General admission is $15. For students, seniors and faculty, tickets are $10.