ALAMEDA -- Generally when a new airplane debuts, the public applauds the improved comforts and travel time. Not so for Bernard, a character in Marc Camoletti's hilarious "Boeing Boeing," running at the Altarena Playhouse from Aug. 15 to Sept. 14.

Bernard's precariously balanced social life depends upon split-second timing, as the self-styled Lothario juggles not one, not two, but three fiancees. The high-flying brides-to-be all work as airline hostesses for different airlines and have layovers at Bernard's Paris apartment at different times.

Thanks to a detailed flight calendar and a very resourceful maid, Bernard manages to keep each fiancee from knowing about the others -- until the fateful introduction of a new, faster airplane. A bumpy ride ensues as fiancees come and go at unscheduled times throwing Bernard and his maid, who has to quickly change photos and other personal items, into a panic. Adding to the confusion, Bernard's slightly naive friend Robert arrives for his first stay in Paris.

"This play has such wonderful characters, and we have a great cast to bring them to life," said director Tim Beagley. "Sue Trigg as the maid is so hilarious -- both on stage and off. But all the actors are such fun and game for anything. Charles Woodson Parker's role as the friend is very pivotal, and he's great in it."


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Beagley has set the show in 1965.

"It's right before things got really crazy. Still a very playful time with, in this case, men behaving badly," Beagley said.

Liz Martin has been busy creating the period-perfect costumes including the three flight attendants' uniforms in bright, primary colors.

"Liz is all about the period, very detailed," Beagley said.

Another important element for this show is the set.

"You absolutely have to have seven doors that can be slammed and given the nature of the stage at the Altarena, that adds quite a challenge," Beagley said.

"It really is a door comedy," said Matt Davis, who plays Bernard. "When one door closes, another one opens. It's silly, fun, fast and very frenetic. You really have to be on your guard at all times because it is all about the timing."

While Davis has worked with Beagley before, this show marks his debut at the Altarena.

"I've always been impressed with the shows I've seen at the theater, but working here firsthand is quite an experience," Davis said. "It's a very dedicated company. They know how to do things right."

Davis also has nothing but kudos for his fellow cast members.

"They are phenomenal. Everyone has to be really on his or her game, and that's no problem for this talented group. Sue has me in stitches every time she's on stage, and Charles' comedic sense and timing are spot-on," he said.

Portraying the young lovelies in Bernard's life are Laura Morgan (Italian), Jayme Catalano (German) and Rhonda Taylor (American).

As to playing a rather morally challenged character, Davis said: "He's not necessarily bad -- just misguided. Ultimately, he has a good heart."

if you go
"Boeing Boeing" plays Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. from Aug. 15 to Sept. 14. For tickets, call 510-523-1553 or go to www.altarena.org.