Come Blow Your Horn

Written by Neil Simoncome blow your horn by neil simon

Directed by Michael Leeds

Stage Door Theatre

Horn Hits High Note

What great fun it is to see the seeds of Neil Simon’s genius in his very first Broadway play. There is even a hint of his future successes when an unseen character – mentioned briefly – is named Felix Unger (later to be celebrated in “The Odd Couple”).

“Come Blow your Horn,” which opened on Broadway in 1961 for 678 performances, is filled with witty, humorous insights and domestic commentary as the playwright cleverly mines his own life. This semi-autobiographical comedy brims with hilarious, often poignant, family conflicts – and resolutions. Sons strike out for independence from parents. Mom and Dad suffer through the transition. Brothers vie against each other. Ultimately, everyone grows up.

The action begins when Simon’s alter ego, innocent 21-year-old Buddy (Christian Castro) emulates his 30-ish still unmarried sibling, Alan (Matthew William Chizever) by leaving home to share his New York bachelor pad.  The young, responsible Buddy envies older, irresponsible Alan for his life style – filled with sex and partying — and his casual work ethic towards their father (Kevin Reilley) who employs them both in his wax fruit business.

Buddy aspires to be a playwright, but his father advises him: “”Plays can close. Television you turn off. Wax fruit lays in a bowl ’till you’re a hundred”

The light-hearted plot unfolds amid a rapid succession of characters who suddenly arrive and leave, always narrowly missing each other as they scurry behind doors – into the closet, the kitchen, or the bedroom. Timing is everything.

Under Michael Leed’s fine direction, the cast performs splendidly as the broadly drawn characters.  Castro as young Buddy skillfully morphs from sober young lad to flamboyant, sexy, swinging man about town. Chizever as Alan (The Frank Sinatra role in the 1963 film) is grandly amoral, and Reilley as the dejected father (the Lee J, Cobb role) captures all the angst of a dismayed parent. However, the actor who really steals the show is Phyllis Spear as the harried mother (the Molly Picon role).  In a show-stopping vignette, she is alone in the apartment, sunk rather awkwardly into a beanbag chair when the phone rings. Not only do we enjoy her struggle to escape the chair and reach the phone, but follow this up by viewing her dismay when desperately trying to find a pencil to take down a message. The shtick occurs again when repeated phone calls — with repeated pencil searches — become ever more hilarious. Spear’s brilliant portrayal of a distracted woman, increasingly unable to remember the messages and unable to write them down, is unforgettable.

Erica Lustig and Ferrrari St. Paul round out the cast as two stunners: Connie, the girl to bring home to the folks, and Peggy, the rather dim bombshell who is in direct contrast.

The gurus at Stage Door Theatre certainly know how to pick the perfect play to attract their audience. In the Thursday Matinee, attended almost entirely by senior citizens, the performance brought down the house. They couldn’t have enjoyed it more.

Highly Recommended

Beverly Friend

At the Stage Door Theatre, 8036 W Sample Rd, Coral Springs, Florida. Call 954-344-7765 www.stagedoortheatre.com Tickets $38-42, Wed, Thurs, Sat, and Sun at 2 pm, Thurs, Fri, Sat at 8 pm, and Sun at 7 pm. Running time is 2 hours 15 minutes with a 15-minute intermission, through  March 7.