by Neil Simon
Directed by Graham Till
We conclude our celebrations of Wick Theatre Company’s seventy years with a revival of Neil Simon’s Plaza Suite, a sparkling comedy with spiky edges, considered by many to be Simon’s finest. Apart from this, why did Graham choose it? Well, perhaps because the play was first produced in New York City in 1968, and is thus celebrating its own fiftieth anniversary.
Production dates: September 26, 27, 28 & 29 2018
Tuesday May 29 – Southwick Community Centre, Southwick Street. BN42 4TE
The event is open to all, and we hope many will join us for the sheer pleasure of the reading. But it is also a chance for anyone considering auditioning to speed-learn the play and its eleven named roles of varied sizes and playing ages.
Monday June 4 – Southwick Community Centre, Southwick Street. BN42 4TE
Wednesday June 6 – Southwick Community Centre, Southwick Street. BN42 4TE
Graham writes : PLAY STRUCTURE
There are three Acts, located in the same suite in the still iconic New York Plaza luxury hotel at the foot of Central Park. Each featuring different guests.
Since the acts are self-contained, there are possibilities for separate rehearsal scheduling, and for some doubling. Act One is the longest, with arguably the most developed main characters – an (early) middle-aged couple – and deeper themes than the surface comedy; Act Two features a comically tense reunion after twenty years of High School sweethearts; and Act Three gives us flat out verbal and visual humour as an older couple try to marry off their daughter.
Simon didn’t really write trouser-dropping farce, though there is plenty of sharp wit and visual humour in all three acts. He unearths his characters’ frailties and frustrations, and usually their sadness, even as the one-liners fly between and around them. His richest source is unhappy marriage – plain for us to see in different ways in Acts One and Three and mostly offstage but looming large in Act Two.
More pertinent perhaps in today’s world is men’s domination and exploitation of women, the way things were in 1968. This doesn’t of course bring Simon’s strong – or at least wishing to be strong, but floundering – males any more happiness. His women are often more resourceful, and more likeable.
We will set the play firmly in its original era.
Playing ages are usually given as written, but there is often some flexibility. Physical attributes are here and there important. Accents can be General American except where otherwise described. Most characters give off typical American self-confidence, if only as a veneer, and some have more ‘attitood’ than others.
Karen Nash, 48 – pleasant, plump, bright, humorous woman trying to rekindle her marriage to a man she still adores – it’s her wedding anniversary – in fairly hopeless circumstances
Sam Nash, 50 – less pleasant (but with redeeming moments), self-important (but largely role-playing this?), trim and good-looking and desperate to stay that way – almost a straight, non-comedic role
Bellhop, 20-ish – local boy, eager to please, one short scene at the opening, can be doubled with Borden in Act Three
Waiter, any age – kind, observant, appears for a couple of pages and at the end, with potential for gentle (but not over-the-top) comedy from foreign accent, appearance, and movement. Also may appear briefly at the beginning of Act Two
Jean McCormack, 28 – neat, efficient, attractive, positive, guarded (she’s the mistress as well as the secretary) – a small but key supporting role, open to subtle variations of interpretation. Could be doubled with Mimsey who has one line in Act Three
Jesse Kiplinger, 40 – smart, self-assured Hollywood producer, probably Jewish, who still has his New York or New Jersey accent (he’s from Tenafly, NJ, just across the Hudson), comically predatory
Muriel Tate, 38 – pretty, good figure, seemingly vulnerable, but turns out to be as ready for what Jesse wants as he is, and though not Brain of Tenafly can stand up (or lie down) for herself – preferably New York accent
Norma Hubley, 60-ish – feisty New York Jewish mother, excitable, resourceful, though unsuccessful and increasingly desperate at getting her daughter to come out of the bathroom and be married
Roy Hubley, 65-ish – fast-talking New York Jewish (smallish?) businessman, guards his hard-earned money, stressed with the wedding and hopeless at handling either wife or daughter
Borden Eisler, 27-ish – the groom – a few short decisive lines at the end
Mimsey Hubley, 24-ish – the beautiful bride – one short line at the very end!
To be used as necessary. Learn if you wish for the part(s) you are interested in, but there’s no need. Here’s the link for a pdf of the script with audition pieces marked: Script link
P8 to p10 Bellboy and Karen
P14 to p16 Karen and Sam
P26 to p27 Waiter (with Karen and Sam)
P31 to p33 Jean (with Karen and Sam)
P48 to p49 Muriel and Jesse
P62 to p63 Muriel and Jesse
P76 to p77 Norman and Roy
P84 to p85 Norma
P86 to p87 Roy (with Norma)
P91 to p92 Borden and Mimsey (with Roy)
Please contact me if you need any more information, and – when you’re ready – to let me know which audition session you would like to attend. NB I am on holiday / unavailable to chat until 16th May.
PS If you want help with the New York accent, I’ve adapted some notes from Death of a Salesman which I can email you.