“Hilarious ‘Boeing Boeing’ takes flight at Chamber Theatre”

Milwaukee Chamber Theatre’s ‘Boeing Boeing’ was a hit with reviewer Mike Fischer!

FIVE TAKEAWAYS

Learning to Travel Light: The comic routines Cotey has added to this production are too good to give away, but trust me when I tell you that there’s a bit involving Schabach’s Robert and his luggage — a lot of luggage — that will stick with you long after you leave the theater. As the play progresses, Robert travels ever more lightly, shedding the baggage with which he’d arrived while switching to carry-ons that redefine who he is. This is just one of scores of examples of how Cotey’s comic extras aren’t just fun in themselves, but also organically integrated with the play’s themes.

Male Bonding: Camoletti suggests that Bernard and Robert may be more interested in each other than any of the play’s women, and Cotey runs with this, underscoring the homoerotic underpinning to so many male rituals, from secret handshakes to ostensible competition for women — which, here, often reflects Bernard and Robert’s mediated and suppressed desire for each other.

Looking Good, Eleanor: “These air hostess uniforms,” waxes Robert to Bernard,” are “so beautifully cut.” “They’re dazzling! Irresistible!,” Bernard enthusiastically replies. And so they are, thanks to costume designer Eleanor Cotey (married to Michael). “We tweaked the colors to make them pop and be a little more modern to the modern eye,” she said in a recent interview with the Journal Sentinel.

Sending Up Chekhov: There’s a scene between Kearns and Schabach — in which a yearning and lovelorn Berthe makes overtures to Robert — which is so unexpected, so ridiculous and yet so smart that I’d go back to see “Boeing” just to watch this vignette once more. The prospect that these two will ever hook up is preposterous. And yet for all that, Cotey and this duo have made something here that also feels quite real, involving the play’s two loneliest and most interesting characters, briefly thrown together by happenstance.

Michael Wright, Take a Bow: No artistic director in Milwaukee does more to champion and develop local theater artists — or takes more chances while doing so — than C. Michael Wright. It’s Wright who gave a major boost to Cotey’s directorial career in tapping him to direct a Chamber show two years ago.

It’s also Wright who, in conjunction with an ambitious series of collaborations with various university theater programs, helped launch Walaszek when she was still at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, in a collaboration between Chamber and UW-Parkside on “Bus Stop.”

In addition to showcasing Walaszek, “Boeing” represents the Chamber debut for local theater artist Amber Smith. And it stretches Sostarich, best known for her work in musical theater and terrific in her straight play role here.”

Click here to read the full review.