Actress Katherine Keberlein has spent much of this year fine-tuning both her language accents and comic timing.
Earlier this spring, Keberlein, a Valparaiso High School graduate, starred as one of the "swinging British sisters" and next-door neighbors to Oscar and Felix in the run of "The Odd Couple" on stage in Skokie.
Now, it's her German she's polishing to star as Gretchen at Drury Lane Theatre for the new production of "Boeing-Boeing," starting this weekend and playing through Aug. 4.
"Both of these stage comedies are set in the '60s, so that aspect is the same," said Keberlein, who still recalls auditioning in the final round her freshman year at Valparaiso High School for the puppet role of Audrey II for "Little Shop of Horrors."
"But there are so many different accents used by the cast of six for 'Boeing-Boeing, it's taken some time to get familiar with all of the scenes and what unfolds."
Keberlein is starring opposite "Saturday Night Live" alum Nora Dunn, who sports a funny French accent as Berthe, a maid who is dedicated to helping her boss, Bernard, played by Stef Tovar, juggle his romantic tinglings, with some help by Daniel Cantor as his pal Robert.
While Keberlein plays one of Bernard's international love interests, actresses Dina DiCostanzo as Gabriella and Kara Zediker as Gloria are the other lovestruck targets of cupid.
Dennis Zacek, former artistic director at Victory Gardens Theater and recipient of the 2001 Tony Award for outstanding Regional Theatre) directs the production.
"This show is a well-constructed farce, and we have an amazing cast," said Keberlein, admitting she's surprised "Boeing-Boeing," which has been around for 50 years, isn't performed more often.
The production, written by French playwright Marc Camoletti and adapted by Beverley Cross, originally opened in London in 1962, followed by the Broadway premiere in 1965. In 1991, "Boeing-Boeing" was included in the Guinness Book of World Records as the most performed French play throughout the world. There has since been a London revival in 2007, a successful seven-year run in the West End, and a Tony Award-winning Broadway revival in 2008, which was adapted by Francis Evans.
Set in Paris in the 1960s, the comedy follows the "flighty tale" of Bernard, a jet-setting architect who is juggling three flight attendant fiancées with the help of his reluctant housekeeper. When his old pal, Robert, arrives at his swanky bachelor pad, Bernard proudly unveils his ingenious scheme. Despite his clever arrangement, Bernard's life starts to unravel when a new turbo-charged Boeing is introduced. In a hysterical whirlwind of mayhem, Bernard finds out that one woman is all he can handle.
Keberlein said the lavish set, featuring an opulent Parisian ballroom and designed by Sam Ball, a professor emeritus at Northwestern University whose credits include the Broadway premiere of "Ride the Winds," is amazing.
"This show is a fun ride for both the cast and the audience," she said.