The Coconut Grove Playhouse in Miami has announced February 2001 as the slot for its pre-Broadway, in-rep revivals of Neil Simon's Brighton Beach Memoirs and Broadway Bound, the bookend plays in the fictional trilogy about the playwright's early life.
Coconut Grove confirmed what had previously been reported in trade papers: Longtime Simon producer Emanuel Azenberg is attached as producer of the pair of plays, and Linda Lavin will repeat her Tony Award winning role as Kate Jerome, who is seen mothering an adolescent Simon figure and his twentysomething self in Brooklyn, NY in the late 1930s and late 1940s. The plays, which share one set, the Brighton Beach Jerome home, will move directly to Broadway after the Feb. 6-March 18, 2001, run, the theatre announced.
No director or additional cast has been announced.
Meanwhile, Lavin is expected to open on Broadway early in the 2000-2001 season in the commercial transfer of the Manhattan Theatre Club hit, The Tale of the Allergist's Wife, by Charles Busch, currently sold out Off-Broadway. Despite the wish, there will not be a Broadway transfer in the current season due to a logjam of booked theatres. Sources told Playbill On-Line that talks are ongoing for a fall move to Broadway.
An early fall Allergist's Wife opening would allow Lavin about four month in the hit Busch comedy before Brighton Beach/Broadway Bound rehearsals begin in December. *
Lavin will repeat her Tony Award-winning ,1986-87 Broadway Bound role as matriarch Kate, and play the younger Kate in the (chronologically first) 1983 play, Brighton Beach Memoirs. Elizabeth Franz originated the role.
The works, which chart the seriocomic youth and young adulthood of a Simon stand-in named Eugene Morris Jerome, of Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, in the Depression and postwar years, respectively, will be performed in rotating rep. For example, Brighton Beach may be offered on a Wednesday matinee and Broadway Bround on Wednesday evening, Azenberg told Variety. Five performance of one play and three of another will be presented.
Audience favorites, the plays have enjoyed a life in regional theatres, but Brighton Beach, a rare period piece for the author, didn't earn Simon a Best Play Tony Award nomination at the time. The middle play, Biloxi Blues, about Eugene's maturing social conscience in the service during World War II, finally earned Simon not only a Best Play nom, but a win, in 1985. Broadway Bound was Best-Play nommed, too, but lost to Fences.
Longtime Simon collaborator Gene Saks got a Best Director Tony for Brighton Beach and Blues (he also staged Broadway Bound). Azenberg produced the Broadway runs of all three works.
A director has not been announced for the revivals.
Both plays will be set in the Brighton Beach Jerome home, with some cosmetic changes over the years. Santo Loquasto will reportedly design.
The works proved pure gold for performers in New York over the years, earning nominations and awards. Winners included Matthew Broderick (Best Actor, Brighton Beach), Lavin, John Randolph (Best Featured Actor, as the grumpy Socialist grandpa in Broadway Bound), and Barry Miller (Best Featured Actor, Biloxi Blues).
Film versions were made of the first two plays, and Broadway Bound was made into a TV movie.
-- By Kenneth Jones