The revival of “Brighton Beach Memoirs,” directed by David Cromer, is charming critics across Broadway in its first staging since the 1980s. The first play in Neil Simon’s autobiographical, comedic trilogy opened on October 25 at Nederlander Theatre in New York, NY.
The play follows Simon’s alter-ego, the 15-year-old Eugene Morris Jerome (played by Noah Robbins in his Broadway debut), and the dynamics of his Jewish family over a period of two weeks in 1930s Brooklyn. The older Jerome brother, 18-year-old Stanley, is played in this revival by Santino Fontana. Laurie Metcalf and Dennis Boutsikaris undertake the respective roles of family matriarch and patriarch, Kate and Jack Jerome.
When “Memoirs” first hit Broadway in 1983, it starred a rising Matthew Broderick. Despite the precedent set two decades ago, the revival’s actors are earning accolades in their own rights now. Reviewers across the board have hailed the authenticity of the performances and dialogue as delivered by the current cast, as well as Cromer’s deft direction of Simon’s classic comedy.
“Memoirs” entered previews at the 1,201-seat Nederlander Theatre on October 2. Despite rave reviews from critics, the theater has only been filled to just about 50 percent capacity, increasing moderately to 60 percent capacity in its final week of previews. Tickets for the production range in face value from $65 to $100, but the average ticket price paid during previews was just about $20 to $30.
The family comedy-drama is the first of two Simon plays to hit Broadway this year. The third installation of Simon’s autobiographical Jerome family triology, “Broadway Bound,” arrives at the Nederlander on November 18, also directed by Cromer and with the same cast reprising their roles as the extended Jerome family some 12 years later.
Once “Broadway Bound” opens, both Simon plays will begin an open-ended run in repertory. For now, performances of “Memoirs” are staged Tuesday through Saturday at 8 p.m., with matinees on Wednesday and Saturday at 2 p.m. and on Sunday at 3 p.m.
Nedelander Theater is located at 208 West 41st Street. The production is two hours and 30 minutes long, including a 15-minute intermission. More details about “Brighton Beach Memoirs” and “Broadway Bound” are available on their official Web site, The Neil Simon Plays.
Opening Night: ‘Brighton Beach Memoirs’
|Variety||David Rooney||“…the revival strikes an exquisite balance between comedy and pathos, its impeccable ensemble landing every laugh while exploring every emotional nuance to build a tremendously moving portrait of family life.”|
|New York Times||Ben Brantley||“When these young men exchange Mr. Simon’s words, the jokes come second. They aren’t reciting polished zingers from a Broadway master. It’s as if they’re inventing what they say on the spot: fumbling, pausing, listening, thinking and cracking each other up.”|
|Newsday||Linda Winer||“‘Brighton Beach Memoirs’ is not as good as it was in 1983. It is even better.”|
|USA Today||Elysa Gardner||“As a precocious, sweetly mischievous nerd, [Robbins] is spot-on, so natural and funny…”|
|TheaterMania||Brian Scott Lipton||“It’s a play that is well worth seeing — for the first, second, or third time.”|
|Chicago Tribune||Chris Jones||“When Cromer is at his best…it’s like you can see over the top of the set and the actors and see the universe — part benevolent, part cruel — that lies beyond.”|