Neil Simon's Proposals Books Broadhurst

By Robert Viagas
and David Lefkowitz
June 5, 1997

Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Neil Simon will return to Broadway Nov. 6, with his next project, Proposals -- but first he'll see the world premiere in Los Angeles July 16.

Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Neil Simon will return to Broadway Nov. 6, with his next project, Proposals -- but first he'll see the world premiere in Los Angeles July 16.

Simon's comedy will run July 8-Aug. 31 at LA's Ahmanson Theatre as the final production of the theatre's 30th anniversary season. The production will begin Broadway previews on or about Oct. 29 at the Broadhurst Theatre.

Between those two engagements, Proposals is scheduled to try out at the Orpheum Theatre in Phoenix, AZ Sept. 3-11; at the Shubert Performing Arts Center in New Haven, CT. Sept. 16-28; and at the Eisenhower Theatre in Washington DC Oct. 1-26.

Proposals will star Barry Newman, Kelly Bishop, L. Scott Caldwell, Suzanne Cryer, Katie Finnernan, Matt Letscher, Peter Rini, Reg Rogers (Holiday) and Mel Winkler. Joe Mantello (Love! Valour! Compassion!) will stage the comedy, which is being produced by Emanuel Azenberg. Sets are by John Lee Beatty, costumes by Jane Greenwood, lighting by Brian MacDevitt and sound by Tom Clark.

The nine-character play is about a man who is recovering from a heart attack in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania. He is visted by his ex wife and his grown daughter who is dealing with some of her own issues of the heart. Variety said the play interweaves "themes of mortality, love and forgiveness."

Theatrical Index quotes Simon as saying that his first outdoor play "is sort of A Midsummer Night's Dream, but it's not Shakespearean."

The plan to open on Broadway is significant. Simon opened his last play, London Suite off-Broadway, complaining that costs on Broadway had become burdensome. However, London Suite had a comparatively modest six-month run off-Broadway, compared to the year-plus runs for some of his Broadway hits, including, but scarcely limited to: Barefoot in the Park, The Odd Couple, Promises, Promises, Brighton Beach Memoirs, Rumors, Pulitzer-winner Lost in Yonkers, and Tony-winner Biloxi Blues.

Proposals marks the sixth time the Ahmanson Theatre has hosted a Neil Simon premiere. The others have been California Suite (1976), Chapter Two (1977), They're Playing Our Song (1978), Brighton Beach Memoirs (1982); and Biloxi Blues (1984).

The show will be presented as part of a four-play Ahamanson subscription. Subscriptions cost $82 to $232.50. For information or subscriptions: (213) 972-0700.