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Review: COME BLOW YOUR HORN at New Theatre Restaurant

Review: COME BLOW YOUR HORN at New Theatre Restaurant

The production runs now through February 5, 2023.

New Theatre Restaurant's new production of Neil Simon's COME BLOW YOUR HORN is a holiday gift to its audiences. This charming, gentle entertainment rekindles a time in America when an evening at the theater did not need to be over-thought because you were too busy laughing at the one liners.

A super cast of six is headlined by Hal Linden (TV Detective BARNEY MILLER) and Sally Struthers (Archie Bunker's daughter and Meathead's bride from ALL IN THE FAMILY) and by Kansas City favorite actor Craig Benton plus the fine imported talents of Tyler Ross, Teagan Earley, and Kalya Firschkorn.

COME BLOW YOUR HORN was Neil (Doc) Simon's 1961 Broadway coming-out party after fifteen years writing radio and TV comedy. The play is a thinly-veiled, mainly autobiographical account of Simon's early years. It marked Simon's first escape from the Writer's Room at Sid Caesar's "SHOW OF SHOWS" on the twenty-third floor. Neil shared the room with the likes of Mel Brooks, Larry Gelbart, Carl Reiner, Selma Diamond, and Woody Allen.

Review: COME BLOW YOUR HORN at New Theatre Restaurant
Hal Linden as Mr. Baker Sr.
in COME BLOW YOU HORN

Set in New York during the swinging nineteen sixties, COME BLOW YOUR HORN tells the story of two, second generation, Jewish American brothers ready to sow their oats on the city while struggling to free themselves of their imperial Dad, the family business, and their sweet, guilt promulgating Mom.

The brothers both love and are bedeviled by their parents. Dad sees them as his successors in the business. The brothers have other ideas. Neil is the younger brother.

COME BLOW YOUR HORN is a classic "Comedy of Manners" uprooted from classical and Shakespeare's time and transplanted to the main stage of the Borsht Belt at Grossinger's Resort in the Catskills.

Most of the action takes place two characters at a time. Meanwhile, one of the two focus characters constantly finds a way to finish his or her scene and exit through one of several doorways being careful not to run into the next focus character. I flashed on the Midwest classic comedy "NATALIE NEEDS A NIGHTIE" while being reminded by the Dad character of the Walter Matthau performance from "THE SUNSHINE BOYS."

Good comedy is all about timing, picking up lines, and physical shtick. This group has it all. The heaviest load falls on Craig Benton supporting Hal Linden and Sally Struthers. None disappoint. Hal Linden in particular has celebrated his 91st birthday and remains as sharp and on point as he was during his Broadway and TV heights. Sally Struthers is as super as the boys. She couldn't be more Jewish Mom. I guess all those years with Carl and Rob Reiner must have rubbed off.

The show is done on a single, excellent, professional set designed by Joe Burkard. With all the exits and entrances, the director's plan must look a lot Andy Reid's playbook. The show is more than competently planned, directed, and executed by New Theatre co-owner Richard Carrothers.

Review: COME BLOW YOUR HORN at New Theatre Restaurant
Sally Struthers and Craig Benton
in COME BLOW YOUR HORN

Supper is an excellent buffet supported by solicitous, efficient wait and support staffs. Their job is to make sure you have an enjoyable evening. They absolutely succeed. I would doubt that another dinner theater nationally surpasses what is available here at New Theater Restaurant.

I had previously mentioned that COME BLOW YOUR HORN is a thinly veiled recitation of Simon's own life as are many of his plays. A few examples are BRIGHTON BEACH MEMOIRS, BILOXI BLUES, THE GOODBYE GIRL, and LAUGHTER ON THE 23rd FLOOR. This play was his first and he was nervous about it.

There is a You Tube interview with Simon in which he describes his parents reaction to seeing themselves on stage. Mom saw the show twice. The first time she fan gawked all the famous actors in the audience. The second time she paid more attention and was very pleasant to her favorite son. She pronounced the play "Nice."

Dad, on the other hand, was much more circumspect. Neil later found out that he thought the Dad character in the play was hilarious and recommended the show to friends, but somehow it never clicked that the Dad was him.

Neil Simon left us in 2014 after sharing a legacy of more than 30 plays. In his 1961 review, New York Times reviewer Howard Taubman said the play was "smoothly plotted and deftly written...Mr. Simon has served up a multitude of sprightly lines. Best of all, he has provided some explosively hilarious moments rooted in character."

Wondering what to get friends for Christmas or Chanukah? You can't go wrong sharing dinner and a laugh at New Theatre Restaurant during the run of COME BLOW YOUR HORN until February 5, 2023. Tickets are available online at www.newtheatre.com or by telephone at 913-649-7469.



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From This Author - Alan Portner

Al Portner is regional editor for Broadway World – Kansas City.  He is a retired career journalist and media executive who has written for publication over more than 40 years. Portner ha... (read more about this author)


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