Brighton Beach Memoirs and Broadway Bound, Neil Simon's bookend plays of his popular autobiographical trilogy, will be performed in repertory on Broadway in early 2001, producer Emanuel Azenberg told Variety.
Linda 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, Variety reported. 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 are set in the Brighton Beach Jerome home, with some cosmetic changes over the years. Santo Loquasto will reportedly design.
The plays will be performed at the Coconut Grove Playhouse in Miami prior to Broadway. Rehearsals are expected to begin in December 2000.
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