The Music Box is expected to be the intimate Broadway setting for Neil Simon's new play, The Dinner Party, according to sources in the theatre community.
The jewelbox of a theatre, originally built by Irving Berlin, is said to be the perfect size for Simon's humane, humorous rumination on marriage and relationships, which takes place in the private dining room of a Paris restaurant.
Emanuel Azenberg and others will bring The Dinner Party to Broadway beginning with previews Oct. 3 and an opening Oct. 19.
The cast of the recent Washington DC staging, at the Kennedy Center's Eisenhower Theatre, is expected repeat their duties on Broadway. Henry Winkler, Len Cariou, John Ritter starred in DC as the confused guests at a private dinner party in a chic Paris restaurant. Answers unfold when ex-wives begin showing up in what has been described as a play by turns hilarious and emotionally honest. John Rando directs.
The Broadway company is expected to include DC cast members Veanne Cox (The Food Chain, Company), Penny Fuller (Applause) and Anette Michelle Sanders. Ritter (of TV's "Three's Company") and Winkler (of TV's "Happy Days") starred in the play's Center Theatre Group world premiere in Los Angeles in December 1999. Sanders and Cox also repeat their L.A. roles. *
On July 16, the Kennedy Center's Eisenhower Theatre saw the final performance of the John Rando-helmed staging that began in late 1999 at the Mark Taper Forum. The Kennedy Center run, slightly recast since L.A., was produced by The Center Theatre Group/Mark Taper Forum. Ira Pittelman and Center Theatre Group were mentioned in The New York Times as associate producers.
The Dinner Party opened June 22 at the Kennedy Center following previews that began June 17.
Simon's 31st play is set in Paris at an upscale gourmet restaurant where a party is being thrown by a well-known divorce lawyer. Two tuxedoed strangers meet, and are joined by a third, confused guest. Ex-wives soon enter.
Lloyd Rose of The Washington Post, in her review, said it was "Neil Simon in new, dangerous territory" and called the work "laugh out loud funny" and "Simon's emotionally richest play." John Rando's direction "gracefully glides the evening to its sweet yet mournful ending."
The Dinner Party had its world premiere Dec. 2, 1999, at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles. The comedy on marital and romantic themes, set in a private dining room of a chic Parisian restaurant, continued to Jan. 16, and rewrites by the author were said to have continued through the week of Christmas last year.
The L.A. cast included Frances Conroy (The Little Foxes), Cox, Edward Herrmann (Psychopathia Sexualis), Ritter, Los Angeles actress Sanders and Winkler.
Simon is also once again represented in New York, where his Hotel Suite (a clutch of one-acts) at Off-Broadway's Gramercy Theatre. Other Simon works include Broadway Bound, Biloxi Blues, Brighton Beach Memoirs and Lost in Yonkers.Brighton Beach Memoirs will get a Coconut Grove Playhouse revival in Miami before coming to Broadway in 2001.