Playwright Neil Simon has personally selected and adapted pieces from his many plays for a starry cast that will perform June 26 at the second annual benefit, "The Playwrights The Thing II: Neil Simon at the Neil Simon."
Walter Bobbie (Chicago, Footloose) will stage scenes from 14 of Simon's works at the Broadway theatre that bears the writer's name. Tickets for the benefit run $50-$1,000 and support programs of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.
Among plays represented are Laughter on the 23rd Floor, Plaza Suite, Last of the Red Hot Lovers, The Odd Couple, The Prisoner of Second Avenue, Biloxi Blues, Jake's Women, The Sunshine Boys, Chapter Two and Lost in Yonkers.
Performers from stage, film and TV include Hank Azaria, Roger Bart, Mark Blum, Charles S. Dutton, Jennifer Ehle, Calista Flockhart, Rosemary Harris, Kristin Johnston, Julie Kavner, Robert Klein, Jane Krakowski, Nathan Lane, Leigh Lawson, Robert Sean Leonard, Eugene Levy, Natasha Lyonne, Marsha Mason, Debra Monk, Bebe Neuwirth, Bronson Pinchot, John Ritter, Ron Rifkin, Paul Rudd, Lynne Thigpen, Mary Louise Wilson and more.
Top ticket-price payers attend a pre-performance cocktail reception at 5:30 PM and a VIP dinner at Dish of Salt following the show. The Neil Simon Theatre is at 250 W. 52nd Street. The 1999 event, showcasing works of Christopher Durang, Terrence McNally and Wendy Wasserstein, raised over $250,000.
"The response from the community last year was overwhelming," said producer Kevin Duncan. "People were so responsive to an event that celebrated the spoken word; it was a first of its kind. Once we presented 'Playwrights' last year the other opportunities to continue and expand on this idea just seemed to start popping up."
Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS bills itself as the nation's leading industry-based, not-for-profit AIDS fundraising and grant-making organization. By drawing on the talents, resources and generosity of the theatre community, BC/EFA has raised millions of dollars for AIDS related causes across the United States.
For ticket information call Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS at (212) 840-0770 or visit www.broadwaycares.org.
-- By Kenneth Jones