×

Broadway Friends and Family Remember Neil Simon: ‘We Will Not See His Like Again’

Matthew Broderick, Nathan Lane, Christine Baranski, Elizabeth Ashley, Sarah Jessica Parker, Stockard Channing, and Marsha Mason were among the friends and family members who turned out Thursday evening to observe Broadway’s ultimate tribute to a fallen legend: the dimming of the lights in honor of prolific playwright Neil Simon.

Simon, who died Sunday at the age of 91, was remembered with warmth and affection at a memorial service held Thursday afternoon at Frank E. Campbell Funeral Chapel on the Upper East Side. Attendees then made the trek down to Sardi’s, the famed Main Stem eatery, for a reception.

At 6:30 p.m. ET sharp, the group made their way out of the restaurant and across the Shubert Alley connecting 44th and 45th streets for prime viewing of the Great White Way’s marquee lights going dark for a minute in tribute to the scribe behind “Barefoot in the Park,” “The Odd Couple,” “Brighton Beach Memoirs,” and numerous other hits. Others spotted in the crowd included Joyce Van Patten, Lee Grant, and director Rob Marshall.

Speakers at the service included Lane, Broderick, Baranski, longtime Simon publicist Bill Evans, and Simon daughters Ellen Simon and Nancy Simon.

“It was beautiful, simple, and very moving,” said actor John Slattery of the memorial service. Slattery, who attended with his wife, actor Talia Balsam, co-starred in the Broadway production of Simon’s “Laughter on the 23rd Floor” in 1993.

Richard Benjamin, veteran director and actor who worked with Simon on several stage and film projects, said the service was notable because “everybody spoke so well.” The celebration of Simon’s life reinforced his incredible legacy as a scribe active in stage, film, and TV. “We will not see his like again,” Benjamin said.

Charlotte St. Martin, president of the Broadway League, echoed that sentiment. “He made an impact like no other,” she said. The legacy of Simon’s work and generosity was evident in how many attendees credited his productions with changing the course of their careers.

James L. Nederlander, president of Broadway’s powerhouse Nederlander Organization, ticked off Simon’s impressive stats: “He wrote 32 plays, and 17 were hits. Let’s try duplicating that again,” he said. “You could feel the love. And you know (Simon) was there taking notes.”

Popular on Variety

More Legit

  • The Sound Inside review

    Broadway Review: 'The Sound Inside' Starring Mary-Louise Parker

    Mary-Louise Parker will take your breath away with her deeply felt and sensitively drawn portrait of a tenured Yale professor who treasures great literature, but has made no room in her life for someone to share that love with. The other thesp in this two-hander is Will Hochman, endearing in the supportive role of a [...]

  • Little Shop of Horrors review

    Off Broadway Review: 'Little Shop of Horrors'

    With its strains of kitschy doo-wop and its sci-fi B-movie inspirations, the quaint 1982 musical “Little Shop of Horrors” hardly seems a thing of modern-day revivalism, even despite its touches of S&M. Yet this year alone, not only is there an Off Broadway production of the blackly comic “Little Shop” featuring Jonathan Groff of Netflix’s [...]

  • The Lightning Thief review musical

    Broadway Review: 'The Lightning Thief,' The Musical

    “It’s a lot to take in right now,” says Percy Jackson, the teen hero of “The Lightning Thief,” the kid-centric fantasy musical (based on the popular Y.A. novel) that’s now on Broadway after touring the country and playing an Off Broadway run. You could say that’s a bit of an understatement from contemporary teen Percy [...]

  • The Rose Tattoo review

    Broadway Review: 'The Rose Tattoo' Starring Marisa Tomei

    “The Rose Tattoo” is what happens when a poet writes a comedy — something strange, but kind of lovely. The same might be said of director Trip Cullman’s production: Strange, if not exactly lovely. Even Marisa Tomei, so physically delicate and expressively refined, seems an odd choice to play the lusty and passionate protagonist, Serafina [...]

  • Obit-Roy-B

    Former NATO President Roy B. White Dies at 93

    Roy B. White, former president and chairman of the National Association of Theater Owners, died of natural causes Oct. 11 in Naples, Fla. He was 93. White ran the 100-screen independent theater circuit, Mid–States Theaters Inc. In addition to his career, he did extensive work on behalf of charities and non-profits. He was vice president [...]

  • Soft Power review

    Off Broadway Review: 'Soft Power'

    The “culture-clash musical” is a familiar template, in which a white American protagonist — waving the flag of individuality, optimism and freedom — trumps and tramps over the complexities of that which is foreign, challenging or “other.” David Henry Hwang and Jeanine Tesori’s “Soft Power,” the new “play with a musical” at Off Broadway’s Public [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content