Just short of 40 years old, Neil Simon’s Plaza Suite maintains its quick, sometimes biting humor. It played almost 1100 performances on Broadway after opening in February, 1968. Its sustaining power is because of the three themes in what is essentially three one-act plays.
Act One is about the conflict of a couple. She is trying to bring romance back into their marriage. He may or may not be having an affair with his secretary. He is definitely a workaholic. The serious piece.
Act Two is about a now-famous film producer revisiting a high school sweetheart. He appears determined to bed her. She is determined not to be bedded. Or is she? Fun and friendly persuasion.
Act Three is the high, low, and middle comedy of the trilogy with a nervous bride, frantic parents, and a groom that knows just how to get his wife-to-be from a locked bathroom to the altar.
The scene of the action is the infamous suite 719 of the Plaza Hotel. The Plaza Hotel will be 100 years old on October 1st and will reopen next January as a combination hotel and condo hotel. It has been the scene of other plays by Neil Simon as well as many movies. It is considered, rightly so, to be one of the most elegant hotels in the world. It faces Central Park.
Director Sherrie Colbourn decided, as did Mike Nichols, to have one couple play the leads in each of the acts. She cast deftly with Cheryl Warner and Jim Clevenger as the couples. With all-too-small parts, Xander Felton plays a hotel employee, a waiter, and a groom, while Amy Ennen plays a charming secretary and a bride. Sadly, the playwright was sparing on lines for these two.
This may be one of the best performances of Cheryl Warner’s career. She portrayed the pain of an injured wife with compassion and spirit. As a former girlfriend of a now famous producer, she is sweet and demure; after all, she is married and a mother. Soon we see that she just maybe is desirous of a renewal. Just watch her eyes and coy smile. Finally, in the last act, the frustrated mother balancing bringing her daughter to her senses and keeping her husband from violence is slapstick at its very best.
Jim Clevenger, also, is giving the audience one of his best performances. His devious husband is a classic. His subtle sleaze-ball Hollywood producer is a charming manipulator who will do and say anything to achieve his goal. As an anguished father seeing wedding costs skyrocketing, he is at his humorous best. The Plaza was and is one of the most expensive venues in the city. This actor ran the gamut of emotions in his three characters.
The technical staff did a very good job. Sharon Bowen and Sherrie Colbourn costumed the show fittingly. Their costumes aptly fitted each of the roles to a tee. Rather than taking a realistic look at the elegant interior of the Plaza, scenic designers Kevin Jones and Sabato Fiorello went for an almost comic book suggestion of the elegance. It is a cute touch and works well for the show.
I recommend that you get down to Suite 719 of the Plaza Hotel and see Patio’s production of Plaza Suite. This is truly an oldie, but goodie. Don’t miss it.
Plaza Suite is playing weekends, September 21 to October 21, 2007 at Patio Playhouse Community Theatre, 201 East Grand, Escondido. For reservations, dial 760 746-6669.
Cheryl Warner, Jim Clevenger, Xander Felton, Amy Ennen
Producer Kevin Jones, Scenic Design Kevin Jones & Sabato Fiorello, Set Construction Joel Colbourn, Costume Design Sharon Bowen & Sherrie Colbourn, Lighting Design Chris DeArmond & Deborah Zimmer, Sound Design David Farlow, AD Patrick McKim, SM Xander Felton, Tech Chantillie Cabrera, Set Decoration/Dressing Fiorello, Jones, & Sherrie Colbourn
Total Rating: Three Stars
Author: Neil Simon
Director: Sherrie Colbourn
Date Reviewed: September 21, 2007
Dates: Weekends, September 21 to October 21, 2007
Running Time: 141 minutes with 2 intermissions totally 25 minutes
Patio Playhouse Community Theatre
Box Office Phone 760 746-6669