Simon classics return

'Brighton,' 'Bound' back on B'way

NEW YORK – Neil Simon’s “Brighton Beach Memoirs” and “Broadway Bound” will be performed in repertory next season on Broadway.

Linda Lavin is set to star in both. The actress won a Tony for her performance as Kate Jerome in “Broadway Bound,” which opened at the Broadhurst Theater on Dec. 5, 1986. Her portrayal of the same character in “Brighton Beach Memoirs” will be a career first. Elizabeth Franz originated the role when “Brighton Beach” opened at the Alvin Theater (renamed the Neil Simon) on March 23, 1983. Emanuel Azenberg will produce.

The two works have been called autobiographical memory plays, with the character of Eugene Jerome, son of Kate, a stand-in for the playwright. Matthew Broderick won a Tony for his portrayal of the 15-year-old Eugene in “Brighton Beach.” In “Broadway Bound,” Jonathan Silverman originated the role of the slightly older Eugene, an aspiring comedy writer for radio.

Casting for the male lead will be conducted in four cities this March, the producer said. Rehearsals begin in December, with a pre-Broadway run at Florida’s Coconut Grove Theater. Santo Loquasto will design the two-level set of the Jerome household, which is to be used for both plays, “with minor alterations,” Azenberg said. The director is to be announced.

Why bring the plays to Broadway in 2001? “A whole generation and a half has gone by since ‘Brighton Beach’ opened, so we thought it was the right time,” Azenberg said. “We had such a good time doing those plays. Neil and I would like to see them again, which is as good a reason as any.”

The producer plans five performances of one play, three of the other each week. “You can see ‘Brighton Beach’ on a Wednesday afternoon,” he offered, “and ‘Broadway Bound’ that night.”

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