Directed by Michael Leeds
At Stage door Theatre, Coral Springs, FL
Book into the right hotel and the right play
There are few playwrights more enjoyable than Neil Simon, and few comedies as delicious as Plaza Suite. Time has not dulled the biting wit of the dialogue, the humor of the situation, and the perceptive peek into the foibles of romance, love, and marriage. Here in room 719 of the Plaza Hotel in New York, we watch the tale of three couples as a marriage dissolves, a seduction occurs, and a bride is persuaded to begin wedded bliss.
While often performed in three acts, Stage Door Theatre devoted the first act to the 24th wedding anniversary of Sam and Karen Nash (Kevin Reilly and Dee Bunn) while consolidating the next two tales in a swiftly moving second act.
We open with a bubbly Karen setting the scene for this anniversary by a return to the site of their honeymoon – and then watch her bubbles burst with the entry of a tired, disinterested Sam. He not only denies that this is the right date or even the right suite, but continues his negativity until the two of them begin to examine their rightness of their lives together. The unfolding – and deterioration – of the relationship is so skillfully done that it is possible to sympathize with both characters. The laughs are tempered with empathetic understanding.
Act II opens with movie producer Jesse Kiplinger (Bill Dobbins) in town for a few days, waiting the arrival of his old flame, suburban housewife Muriel Tate (Courtney Cameron Reed). What Kiplinger lacks in height, he makes up for in swagger and attitude and Dobbins captures the character perfectly. Muriel’s nervousness is palpable as she struggles to avoid becoming ensnared in his seductive behavior – jumping up, ready to leave, then changing her mind as rapidly as she changes the facts about when she is expected home, and the state of her own marriage. What ultimately captures this chattering butterfly is as hilarious as the interplay between the two characters.
The final vignette is the funniest as long-married Roy and Norma Hubley (Michael Douglass and Margie Elias Eisenberg) attempt to persuade daughter Mimsey (Danielle Tabino) to come out of her locked bedroom to attend her own wedding. The machinations of the couple move from reasonable – they cajole, they demand, they plead — to outrageous (even slapstick) so skillfully that the audience is left holding its breath between laughs. If Douglas and Eisenberg ever considered starring in their own sit-com, they would be a sure-fire success.
Plaza Suite has had a long and successful career on stage and in film. Opening in 1968 in New York for 1,097 performances, the comedy starred George C. Scott and Maureen Stapleton in all three tales. In 1971, it became a film with Walter Matthau, Stapleton, Barbara Harris and Lee Grant, and in 1987, Carol Burnett produced a TV movie in which she played all three of the female roles.
The Stage Door cast is equal to any comparison with their more famous counterparts – handling their roles with skill and aplomb under the fine direction of Michael Leeds. This excellent ensemble is rounded out by Sam Sherburne who appears in a supporting role in all three stories as bellhop, waiter, and groom.
Worth seeing more than once!
Date Reviewed: February 17, 2011
At the Stage Door Theatre, 8036 W Sample Rd, Coral Springs, Florida. Call 954-344-7765, Tickets $38-42 Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturday and Sundays 2 p.m., Thursdays through Saturdays 8 p.m., Sundays 7 p.m. through March 20