The Richard Rodgers Theatre will greet Neil Simon's latest comedy, 45 Seconds from Broadway on Oct. 16, when previews for the show begin. The official opening is uncertain, though Nov. 11 looks like a likely date. Jerry Zaks directs. Emanuel Azenberg is producing.
45 Seconds had a reading April 24 at Off-Broadway's Duke Theatre, with Marian Seldes, Joan Copeland, Alix Korey and Lewis J. Stadlen taking parts. As widely reported since, all four of those actors have made the cut for the final cast — though the press spokesman on the project is holding back on confirming any of the names being bandied about (which also include Kevin Carroll, Judy Blazer, Bill Moor, Julie Lund and Dennis Creagan). Seldes, who has spoken openly about the play often, seems the most definite. She is currently starring Off-Broadway in Edward Albee's The Play About the Baby. This spring she received (in addition to several award nominations) an OBIE Award for Sustained Excellence.
Stadlen last graced Broadway as Banjo in the Roundabout Theatre Company's The Man Who Came to Dinner. He acted in the Broadway premiere of Simon's Laughter on the 23rd Floor, which was also directed by Zaks. Copeland has performed in plays ranging from The Torchbearers at the Drama Dept. to Over the River and Through the Woods Off-Broadway. Korey garnered a wealth of notice for her turn as a lesbian in the musical The Wild Party at Manhattan Theatre Club and recently appeared in Suburb at the York Theatre Company. Julie Lund is best remembered as one of the slightly insane inhabitants of Christopher Durang's summer beach house in Betty's Summer Vacation, which played Playwrights Horizons two seasons ago.
45 Seconds from Broadway (a reference to the old George M. Cohan song "45 Minutes from Broadway") pays homage to Time Square's Edison Cafe—known in theatrical circles as "The Polish Tearoom." Zaks would seem to be the right man for the job, since 45 Seconds looks to be a heartfelt comic valentine along the lines of Laughter on the 23rd Floor, which paid veiled tribute to Simon's early years writing for Sid Caesar's "Show of Shows." If all goes according to schedule, 45 Seconds will be the first Simon play in many years to open cold on Broadway. Over the past decade, Simon comedies has tried out in the regions only to experience short runs on Broadway, or opened and closes Off-Broadway. The Dinner Party reversed the playwright's fluctuating fortunes, becoming Simon's first Broadway hit in some time. The comedy earned back its investment and is yet running at the Music Box Theatre. If it remains healthy through the fall, Broadway will see something that was once a common sight in Times Square: two Neil Simon works running simultaneously.
The Edison Cafe, located on W. 47th Street on the ground floor of the Edison Hotel, has long been a haunt for theatre types. Little more than a fancy diner (albeit with a highly decorative, salmon colored ceiling), it is prized for its casual atmosphere, inexpensive prices and Matzoh ball soup. The walls are covered with theatre posters and a corner table near the front door is always reserved for high-powered lunch meetings held by the Shubert Organization. August Wilson is know to frequent the place when he is in town.
As previously reported, the play will feature characters based on the cafe's owners, Harry and Frances Edelstein, comedian Jackie Mason, and various producers, actors, stage managers and the like.
Other Simon works include Biloxi Blues, Broadway Bound, Brighton Beach Memoirs, Rumors, Come Blow Your Horn, Fools and the books for Little Me and The Goodbye Girl.