Thursday, October 15, 2009

Broadway Bound Again

Broadway Bound Again

UPDATE - 10.31.2009: Brighton Beach Memoirs will close just one week after opening due to weak box office demand, thus scuttling the planned revival of Broadway Bound.

Yesterday, I highlighted the history of Neil Simon's Brighton Beach Memoirs and its hotly anticipated first revival.

In my earlier post, I mentioned the two things that truly intrigue me about the revival. One is that it's being helmed by Chicago's visionary director David Cromer. The other is that Cromer will soon be staging it in repertory with his revival of Broadway Bound.

As I noted, both works are part of what's been dubbed the "Eugene Trilogy" since they, along with the jettisoned Biloxi Blues, revolve around Simon's young alter-ego Eugene Jerome.

Laurie Metcalf and Dennis Boutsikaris headline each as Kate and Jack Jerome, respectively. Santino Fontana will tackle Stanley Jerome in both, and Jessica Hecht plays Blanche in each. While Noah Robbins is portraying Eugene in Brighton Beach Memoirs, Theatre World Award winner Josh Grisetti assumes the Eugene mantle in Broadway Bound, a play set 12 years beyond the first.

When originally produced on the Great White Way, each of the three plays comprising Simon's cycle came in relatively short order. Brighton Beach Memoirs debuted on Broadway in 1983, Biloxi Blues followed in 1985, and Broadway Bound realized exactly that when it opened at the Broadhurst Theatre on December 4, 1986. All were directed by Gene Saks.

However, unlike the new Simon Plays in which Metcalfe, Boutsikaris, Fontana and Hecht portray the same chacters in both shows, the cast of the original Broadway Bound was different from Brighton Beach Memoirs. Cast in the Broadway Bound roles first seen Brighton Beach Memoirs were Linda Lavin as Kate, Philip Sterling as Jack, Jason Alexander as Stanley, Phyllis Newman as Blanche and a young Jonathan Silverman as Eugene. John Randolph and Philip Sterling were also in the cast.

Not only was Broadway Bound nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, it also earned Simon a Tony nomination. Lavin and Randolph would each win Tony Awards for their performances, while Newman, in her last Broadway role to date, would earn a Tony nod. The show finally closed in September 1988 after 756 performances.

As I mentioned yesterday, the only real reported news I've heard for the Simon Plays has been relegated to behind-the-scenes strife. Fortunately, I've already heard great buzz about the first installment that began previews earlier this month.

Audiences will have their first opportunity to see previews of Broadway Bound beginning November 18; the show will open December 10 -- a month and a half after Brighton Beach Memoirs opens October 25. The two shows begin playing in rep just in time for Thanksgiving.

This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).

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