The final play of the Eugene Trilogy (Brighton Beach Memoirs, Biloxi Blues) BROADWAY BOUND is the semi-autobiographical play closest to Neil Simon’s own life. BROADWAY BOUND premiered on 10/6/86 and opened on Broadway on 12/4/86 – becoming a smash hit with 756 performances and winning both Tony and Drama Desk Awards for Best Actress (Linda Lavin) and Best Featured Actor (John Randolph). BROADWAY BOUND was also a finalist for the 1987 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. In 1992, Neil Simon adapted BROADWAY BOUND for television. Obviously, Simon’s tale resonated with the public in a big way.
The story of the Jerome family (names changed to protect the innocent – or guilty), BROADWAY BOUND weaves the tale of Eugene (Josh Reiter) and his brother Stanley (Matthew Nye), comedy writer hopefuls who dream of making a big splash in the entertainment scene. They live with their parents Kate (Jill Remez) and Jack (Mark Sande), who are trying to make the best of a deteriorating marriage, and their lovable grandfather Ben (Shelly Kurtz), who is getting older but not much wiser. It’s 1949, and the motley crew live in their house in Brighton Beach. And then, amidst their close but chaotic family life, comes the brothers’ first big break. Despite being pulled in every direction at once, life keeps happening, – sometimes with sorrow and sometimes with joy.
BROADWAY BOUND is a presentation of the West Coast Jewish Theatre, and director and producer Howard Teichman tried to stay as faithful as possible to Neil Simon’s original in an attempt to honor a theater great who died only weeks ago. Their production is at once tough, tender, clever, poignant, and authentic in a way that can only be the result of taking real life and putting it on the stage whole.
Kurtis Bedford’s set is a marvel as he presents two stories of a cluttered but cozy home that looks lived in – and loved by all. Shon LeBlanc’s costumes, Judi Lewin’s hair/wig/makeup, Ellen Monocroussos’ lighting, and Bill Froggatt’s sound set just the right tone to bring 70 years in the past right into the present. But, most of all, it’s the actors who bring the show to life as they stomp – or tiptoe – through the Jerome family adventures. Clearly, these characters were close to Simon’s heart – and they will sneak into the audience’s hearts while they’re not looking. Especially the elder Ben who is plodding through his senior years without much enthusiasm, and Mom Kate, who must remain the family anchor even when she wants to run away screaming, offer a peek into what constitutes a real family, warts and all. Congratulations, Howard Teichman, for making everyone remember that a talent like Neil Simon’s will remain forever fresh.
BROADWAY BOUND runs through October 28, 2018, with performances at 8 p.m. on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays and at 2 p.m. on Sundays. The Miles Memorial Playhouse is located at 1130 Lincoln Blvd., Santa Monica, CA 90402. Tickets are $40 ($35 Santa Monica residents, $25 students). For information and reservations, call 323-821-2449 or go online.