Scintillating scandal is on the menu during Theatre Baton Rouge’s production of “Don’t Dress for Dinner,” the sequel to last spring’s “Boeing, Boeing.”
Originally written in 1987 by French playwright Marc Camoletti, the play premiered in Paris and was adapted into English in 2012 by Robin Hawdon. The show played in London at the Apollo and Duchess theaters for a six-year run. Most recently, the show premiered on Broadway in 2012, directed by John Tillinger.
Set in a picturesque ‘60s French countryside, “Don’t Dress for Dinner” tells the story of Bernard, a married man who sends his wife Jacqueline away to her mother’s for the weekend as he plans to have a romantic rendezvous with his Parisian mistress, Suzanne. However, things don’t quite as planned for Bernard, as he tries to craft the perfect alibi to ensure his scheme goes as planned. He hires a cordon bleu chef and invites his best friend Robert to dinner, however, things don’t go according to plan in this sexy farce.
For people who enjoyed “Boeing, Boeing,” they’ll be pleased to know that the show is under the helm of Kevin Harger, who also directed “Boeing, Boeing” as a guest director. Harger is pleased to return to the TBR stage, to direct the show that started his love of farce.
“It’s interesting because I have directed a number of farces now, but really what attracted me to the whole genre was the play Don’t Dress for Dinner,” Harger said. “It was one of the first plays I read…It caught my attention and had been in my head ever since.”
Farce is all about zany hijinks after all. A farce is a comedy that uses highly exaggerated situations to entertain its audience and categorized by the use of several doors. The resulting situations are more often than not exaggerated to an extent that ultimately renders them improbable. According to Harger, it was a pleasure to direct “Boeing, Boeing,” which is essentially the prequel to one of his favorite plays.
“As much as I love Boeing, Boeing, between the two, Don’t Dress for Dinner’s writing is just tighter, it’s much cleaner,” Harger said. “There’s not as much exposition, to set up information at the beginning of the play, so you really get a sense of what’s going on very quickly. To me I think that’s really important for the modern playgoer, that’s a plus for them.”
The cast of TBR’s production of “Don’t Dress for Dinner” has Phil Blanchard and Enrico Cannella in the roles of Bernard and Robert respectively, with Aron Coates reprising her “Boeing, Boeing” role as Gabrielle along with Eileen Peterson in the role of Suzanne. While this show is a sequel, Harger believes it is its own story, not a chance for him to do something he wasn’t able to do during “Boeing, Boeing” as it’s not just his show, “it’s everyone’s show.”
“All of my cast members embrace that theory and everybody brought something to the table to help create just a really, really tight show,” Harger said.
The rehearsal process for the show was very fast-paced, exciting and fun, and it shows in the cast’s dedicated work, according to Harger.
“I have an absolutely outstanding cast who have all been involved in plays before, know what’s expected of them and understand the whole concept of a farce,” Harger said. “It’s gone extremely fast…It’s a bittersweet experience. Once they’re up and running, your job is done.”
The show is rated PG-13 for adult humor and innuendo. “Don’t Dress for Dinner” runs through May 1 at Theatre Baton Rouge.