Marc Camoletti wrote 40 plays, which have been translated into 18 languages and produced professionally in 55 countries. His most successful play, Boeing-Boeing, ran for 19 years in Paris. There have been 14 film and television adaptations of his plays, including the 1965 film version of Boeing Boeing starring Jerry Lewis, Tony Curtis, and Thelma Ritter. Camoletti directed 1 movie, a 1979 adaptation of his play Duos sur canapé. It’s estimated that 20 million people have seen his plays live and 500 million people have seen a recorded version.
Type “Marc Camoletti” into any internet search engine, and discover thousands of productions of his plays, staged everywhere from dinner theaters in Lubbock, Texas to the Měšťanská beseda v Kopeckého in Pilsen, Czech Republic.
The international reach of Camoletti’s work—his forty plays have been translated into 18 languages and performed professionally in fifty-five countries—mirrors Camoletti’s personal background. He was a French citizen, born on November 16, 1923, in Geneva, Switzerland, to a family of Italian background.
Camoletti’s paternal grandfather, also named Marc Camoletti, was a prominent architect who designed Victoria Hall, a concert venue, named in honor of Queen Victoria and eventually donated to the city of Geneva by its owner. The elder Camoletti also designed the Geneva Musée d'Art et d'Histoire, and the Hôtel des Postes du Mont-Blanc, all in Geneva. Camoletti’s great uncle and cousins were also successful architects.
Camoletti initially trained as a painter. But by the early 1950s he was living and writing in Paris, the city that would embrace his work and that he would call home for most of his life. In 1955, he adapted and directed a play titled Isabella and the Pelican at the Edward VII Theatre. In 1958, at the advanced (for a beginner playwright) age of 35, he wrote his first play, La Bonne Anna (The Good Anna or Anna the Maid). It was produced at the Théâtre des Capucines by a company affiliated with Camoletti’s wife, the theatrical designer Germaine Camoletti. The production was a smash hit and ran for 1,300 performances.
La Bonne Anna, like all of Camoletti’s forty plays, was a light comedy dealing with themes of sex, relationships, and secrets. His work is often characterized as “boulevard theatre,” a genre characterized by middlebrow sex comedies and named for Paris’ Boulevard du Temple, location of many theaters. Georges Feydeau is the most notable playwright of the style.
Camoletti’s second—and most famous—play, Boeing-Boeing, opened in Paris on December 10, 1960, and ran for 19 years. The English translation opened in London in 1962 and ran for seven years. The farce initially held less appeal for American audiences—the original Broadway production lasted just 23 performances in 1965. But the 2008 Broadway revival starring Mark Rylance and Christine Baranski fared better, running for 279 performances, earning six Tony Award® nominations and two Tony awards. Boeing-Boeing now regularly appears at regional theaters across the country.
Camoletti followed up Boeing-Boeing with a string of successful shows, including Sèmiramis in 1963, Secretissimo in 1965, La Bonne Adresse in 1966, and L’Amour propre in 1968. In 1972, Camoletti and his wife took over management of Thèâtre Michel, on Paris’ Rue des Mathurins.
Camoletti would produce and often direct his own work at Thèâtre Michel, beginning with Duos sur canape in 1974. Bon Anniversaire followed in 1976, On dînera au lit in 1980, and Le Bluffeur in 1984. In 1987, Pyjama pour six, a sequel to Boeing-Boeing, opened at the Theatre Michel. The English translation, retitled Don’t Dress for Dinner, opened in London in 1991 and ran for six years. (The German translation, Snutensnack un Lögenpack, has also proven popular.)
Camoletti continued to write, produce, and direct at the Thèâtre Michel throughout the 1980s and 1990s. He was made a Knight of the Legion of Honor, one of France’s highest honors.
Camoletti passed away on July 18, 2003. He is buried with his wife, who passed away in 1994, in the Montmartre Cemetery in Paris. From the time of Camoletti’s death in 2003 through 2008, Camoletti’s son Jean Christophe and daughter-in-law Arianne managed Thèâtre Michel.
2011-2012 Season, Don't Dress for Dinner, Education @ Roundabout, Upstage