Neil Simon Plans 2 Projects on 2 Continents

News   Neil Simon Plans 2 Projects on 2 Continents
Pulitizer-winning playwright Neil Simon is planning two major theatre openings on two continents in the coming months.

Pulitizer-winning playwright Neil Simon is planning two major theatre openings on two continents in the coming months.

His newest comedy, Proposals will have its world premiere July 16 in Los Angeles, prior to a November opening on Broadway.

The Chichester Festival in Great Britain is presenting Hotel Suite, a program of Simon one-acts culled from his Plaza Suite, California Suite and London Suite. The four one-acts are: Visitor From Mamaroneck, Visitors From London, Visitor From Mykinos and Visitors From Philadelphia. Hotel Suite previews Oct. 1 and runs through Oct. 18 at the Minerva Studio theatre in Chichester. The director and cast are scheduled to be announced later in July, according to a spokesperson.

Simon's 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.

Proposals 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 Phoeniz, 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.

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.

--By Laura MacDonald and David Lefkowitz

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