French playwright Marc Camoletti’s classic farce, Boeing Boeing, premiered at the Théâtre de la Comédie-Caumartin in Paris in December, 1960. It ran in Paris for 19 years, and, with several translations, has since become the most produced French play in history, setting a Guinness World Record in 1991.
The English-language translation by Beverley Cross and Francis Evans opened in London’s West End in 1962, starring David Tomlinson, later of Mary Poppins fame, and ran for seven years. It was not as well-received in America, closing after only 23 performances in 1965 on Broadway at the Cort Theatre.
Boeing Boeing has seen numerous adaptations, including the 1965 Paramount Pictures big screen adaptation with Tony Curtis & Jerry Lewis. That film was the last one that Jerry Lewis made with Paramount Pictures, ending a quarter of a century of exclusive work with the studio. The film has been remade twice in India: first in 1985 and again as a younger, hipper version in 2005. The original film was selected by Quentin Tarantino for the first Quentin Tarantino Film Festival hosted by the Austin Film Society in Austin, Texas, 1996.
Boeing Boeing was adapted by W!LD RICE production in Singapore in 2002, and the company revisited, modernized, and relocated this classic comedy to present-day Asia, while keeping faithful to the text and the spirit of the play.
A sequel to Boeing Boeing, Don’t Dress for Dinner opened in Paris in 1987, under the title Pajamas Pour Six, and ran for over two years. An English‐language adaptation premiered in London at the Apollo Theatre in 1991 and ran for six years. It had a limited run on Broadway in 2012.
The Comedy Theatre revival in London in 2007 received two Olivier Award nominations – including one for best revival. This time American audiences were more receptive; Boeing Boeing won the 2008 Tony Award for best revival, when an adapted version played at Broadway’s Longacre Theatre. The New York Times raved, “This latest edition of a play named for an aircraft soars right out of its time zone and into some unpolluted stratosphere of classic physical comedy.”
Marc Camoletti’s plays have been performed in over 50 countries in several languages. In Paris alone, 20,000 performances have been done of 18 different plays. This remarkable artist passed away in 2003, in Deauville, on the coast of Normandy. He is buried with his wife in Montmarte Cemetery in Paris, the final resting place of another great master of French farce, Georges Feydeau.
For tickets and information about the Hilberry Theatre’s current production of Boeing Boeing, visit hilberry.com.