Theater J Extends Neil Simon's BRIGHTON BEACH MEMOIRS
Reacting to enthusiastic critical and audience response, Theater J is extending the run of its current production of Neil Simon's Brighton Beach Memoirs by one week, to May 14.
The acting of the entire ensemble, under Matt Torney's direction, has received especially warm praise, notably 14 year-old newcomer Cole Sitilides in the pivotal role of Eugene.
Starting in the 1950's everyone knew that Neil Simon could write hilarious jokes and craft entertaining comedies. But in 1983, when Brighton Beach Memoirs premiered on Broadway, it became abundantly clear that Simon's heart is as robust as his funny bone. The first of his "Eugene trilogy" of semi-autobiographical plays, Brighton Beach Memoirs runs at Theater J from April 5-May 7, 2017.
Eugene Morris Jerome is 15, lives in Brooklyn circa 1937, and thinks of little else but playing for the Yankees...and girls, of course. But he's more likely to become a short story writer than a short stop. Eugene provides witty commentary about his life, his overworked father, his overbearing mother, his overconfident brother and his overly gorgeous cousin. Meanwhile, the family struggles with a post-Depression era economy and extended family members in need, all living under one roof. Simon strikes a nuanced balance to make Eugene's journey through adolescence equal parts hysterical and poignant.
"Brighton Beach Memoirs is Neil Simon at his absolute best," says Theater J Artistic Director Adam Immerwahr. "It's a joyful play, full of nostalgia, and is sure to bring a smile to every face. It's a perfect escape from today's never-ending news cycle, a tender and delightful work by one of our country's National Treasures."
In Eugene's vivid coming-of-age story, Simon hits on universal experiences that are as recognizable to an audience today as they were in the 1930's and 1980's, making it a worthy introduction to the American theater canon for young theater-goers who may have graduated from Disney musicals yet aren't quite ready to take on Tennessee Williams and Arthur Miller. Adding to the appeal, four local teen actors will play the major roles of Eugene, his brother Stanley, and their two cousins, Laurie and Nora. Those teens are, respectively, Cole Sitilides, Eli Pendry, Sarah Kathryn Makl, and Marie-Josée Bourelly. The adult professionals joining them in the cast are Lise Bruneau, Michael Glenn and Susan Rome.
Immerwahr says that "Director Matt Torney and I are seeking to capture the authenticity, innocence, and hope of actual age-appropriate actors. So we undertook a broad community outreach initiative at synagogues, schools, and acting programs throughout the DC metropolitan area. In addition to finding our cast, we had the opportunity to engage artistically with young actors throughout our region through free workshops on acting and audition technique."
Torney's most recent directorial credit is The Hard Problem at Studio Theatre, where he is Associate Artistic Director. Other Studio credits include Hedda Gabler, Jumpers for Goalposts, The New Electric Ballroom and The Walworth Farce. A highlight of his early career, in his native Ireland, was a successful and critically-acclaimed touring production of Neil Simon's Plaza Suite.
Playwright and screenwriter Neil Simon is widely regarded as one of the most prolific and performed playwrights in the world. His plays and musicals include Lost in Yonkers, Come Blow Your Horn, Little Me, Barefoot in the Park, The Odd Couple, Sweet Charity, The Star-Spangled Girl, Plaza Suite, Promises, Promises, Last of the Red Hot Lovers, among many others. In addition to the film adaptations he has written of many of his plays, his screenplay credits include After the Fox, The Out-Of-Towners, The Heartbreak Kid (original 1973 version) and many others. For television Mr. Simon has written series, teleplays and motion pictures including "The Tallulah Bankhead Show," "The Sid Caesar Show," "The Phil Silvers Arrow Show" and many others. His accolades include receiving more Academy and Tony nominations than any other writer. Awards received include the Pulitzer Prize (Lost in Yonkers) Emmy Awards, Tony Awards, a special Tony Award For Overall Contribution To The Theatre and many others.
Theater J is a nationally-renowned, professional theater that celebrates, explores and struggles with the complexities and nuances of both the Jewish experience and the universal human condition. Our work illuminates and examines ethical questions of our time, inter-cultural experiences that parallel our own, and the changing landscape of Jewish identities. As the nation's largest and most prominent Jewish theater, we aim to preserve and expand a rich Jewish theatrical tradition and to create community and commonality through theater-going experiences.
Edlavitch DCJCC embraces inclusion in all its programs and activities. We welcome and encourage the participation of all people, regardless of their background, sexual orientation, abilities, or religion, including interfaith couples and families.