photos by Joan Marcus
by Julia Polinsky
Simon’s superb book may lightly touch the heart, but Plaza Suite deals
with things that hurt, too. He leavens the heartbreak of breakup, mocks the
push-pull of seduction, and pokes hilarious holes in a portrait of a marriage.
Really, Neil Simon’s note-perfect writing makes it look easy to make characters
sound natural, like people you know. Easy, that is not, and he is a master at
Suite takes place
over three acts, each act a separate story. In Act 1, “Visitor from
Mamaroneck,” a middle-aged wife has booked Suite 719 at the Plaza, to celebrate
her twenty-somethingth wedding anniversary, with unintended consequences. Act
2, “Visitor from Hollywood,” showcases an aging movie producer trying hard to
be in touch with the sweet girlfriend he remembers from high school; they each
discover their illusions and the reality behind them. In Act 3, “Visitor from
Forest Hills,” it’s zero hour of that most classic Plaza Hotel event -- the
wedding -- but the bride has locked herself in the bathroom, and her parents
and her fiancé (Eric Wiegand) have to cope.
wooden affect in Act 1, serves his character, Sam, well. Sam has left his best
self in the office, a trope that has become all too familiar. In 1968, women
had not yet entered the workforce in any numbers, so having an affair with a
cute young secretary (Molly Ranson as Miss McCormack) was simply normal, as was
having a lonely, frustrated wife. Kudos to Parker as the long-suffering Karen,
for making sure we feel the pain under the wisecracks.
by Joan Marcus
In Act 2,
Broderick is simply wonderful, hilarious in his portrayal of a Hollywood
producer slightly past his prime, and Parker truly shines as the girl he left
behind – as she is now. Who knew Broderick could be this funny? The timing is
perfect; the bits of business are wonderful; the shtick is smashing.
by Joan Marcus
Act 3 lays on
the broadest humor. Broderick and Parker do it proud, obviously enjoying
themselves enormously as they play out verbal and physical comedy, bordering on
by Joan Marcus
Thank God for
Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker; huge Hollywood stars who are old
hands onstage, they appeal to the eye, the ear, the heart, and the funnybone.
Without this cast, it’s a question if the show might have been produced, in
this day of intentionally challenging theater that wrenches the emotions, asks
huge questions, provokes controversy.
Suite takes place in
a New York City before the huge social changes of the late 20th
Century. Written in 1968, the play holds up a mirror to an America in the
middle of the Viet Nam War, before the Civil Rights Act, before the
assassinations of Dr. King and Bobby Kennedy, before Richard Nixon was elected
President. “2001: A Space Odyssey” was in movie theaters; “Hey Jude” was the
biggest hit of the year. It’s before Stonewall; before Woodstock; before the
Mets won the series; before ATM machines.
characters in Plaza Suite’s three acts are people of their time; how
could they not be? Thankfully, director John Benjamin Hickey and everyone
involved in the production has viewed them with affection and respect,
regardless of 50+ years of knowledge and change in the rearview mirror.
One of the
real stars of the show is the set, the living room and bedroom of Suite 719 at
the Plaza Hotel – elegant and beautiful, it gets a well-deserved round of
applause at curtain up. John Lee Beatty’s superb scenic design makes the show
work; it’s hard to imagine what this Plaza Suite would be without his
Greenwood’s costuming and Tom Watson’s hair design evoke time, place, and
personality, and still make gentle fun of the characters. Broderick’s
Jesse in the second act gets a laugh just being onstage, with his ill-fitting
plaid pants, his too-tight turtleneck, his laughably-long hair. Parker, one of
the great clothes horses of pop culture, sports a hideously unflattering suit
in Act 1, a period perfect Pucci-style sheath in Act 2, and a hilariously over
the top mother-of-the-bride outfit in Act 3.
elements together create a preserved picture of a New York City that’s gone,
and they do it with care and style. For two and a half hours, Neil Simon’s Plaza
Suite will wrap you in the pleasures of the past; let it, enjoy it.
Neil Simon’s Plaza
At the Hudson
141 W. 44th
Street between Broadway and 6th Avenue, New York (855) 801-5876
available through June 26; Tickets, $99-$699 https://plazasuitebroadway.com/tickets/