Theatre Review: “Plaza Suite” Is Funny And Insightful, A Must-See!

“I have come to expect excellence from ONSTAGE In Bedford, and 'Plaza Suite' did not disappoint. If anything, this production continues to raise the bar on the amazing quality and talent that ONSTAGE offers its audience.”


 

Three tales all set in the same suite in New York’s famed Plaza Hotel: a long-time married couple teetering on the edge of divorce, a thrice-married Hollywood producer attempting to seduce his old flame (who’s now a suburban housewife), and two parents attempting to talk their daughter, a panicked bride who has locked herself in the bathroom, into getting married. This Tony-nominated Neil Simon classic gives everything from slapstick comedy to surprisingly touching moments.

ONSTAGE in Bedford is celebrating their 32nd season with absolute flair and style! The opening of their current show, “Plaza Suite,” explodes with talent and dedication to excellence. Artistic Director Michael Winters’ program notes gave the audience an introduction to what to expect from the show. “Today we welcome you to the fabled Plaza Hotel in New York City, a luxurious hotel known for its service and grandeur. It is also, however, full of secrets. They say that behind every closed door lies a story, and today thanks to the imaginative humor of Neil Simon, you are handed the key to open the door to Suite 719 and witness three tales of relationships designed to make you laugh as layers and secrets are peeled back, revealing romances new, stagnating and wished for, all set in the 1960’s.”

As Mr. Winters mentions, there are three distinct and separate stories told in “Plaza Suite.” They do not interact with each other, but rather stand alone as three short stories only sharing the same location and decade where they take place.

The first story is that of Sam and Karen Nash (Jeff Burleson and Erika Maroney) who are spending the night in the Plaza because their home is being painted. More importantly for Karen however, is the fact that she believes it is their 20 “something” wedding anniversary and has specifically reserved room 719 where she and Sam spent their honeymoon. She longs to recreate the magic and romance of their wedding night. Unfortunately, Sam is preoccupied with work and other matters that may determine if they make it to 20 “something” plus 1.

The second story brings to life the two hours of free time that womanizing self-centered movie producer Jesse Kiplinger (Brandon Jackson) has in New York while he stays at the Plaza. In his desire for an afternoon “quicky,” he begins contacting old love interests. The first to answer is his old high school girlfriend Muriel Tate (Madyson Greenwood). Married and with children, Muriel is comically nervous and constantly second guessing herself on if she should be there or not. However, the more vodka stingers Jesse serves her, and the more he talks about Hollywood superstars, the easier it is for her to stay.

The third story shows the lengths that parents will go to in order to save face and ensure their daughter’s happiness. Roy and Norma Hubley (Robert Banks and Susan Dergoul) face every parents nightmare. In the Baroque Room of the Plaza, there is a room full of people awaiting the marriage and reception of their daughter Mimsy Hubley (Madyson Greenwood) and future son in law Borden Eisler (Brandon Jackson). Just minutes from when the wedding is about to start, without a word to either her father or mother, Mimsy has locked herself in the bathroom of suite 719, leaving her parents to do whatever they can to coax her out and carry through with the wedding.

“Plaza Suite,” written by Neil Simon, took Broadway by storm when it first opened on Valentines Day in 1968 at the Plymouth Theater. Originally written in 4 acts, it was shortened for the stage performance. Mr. Simon would later reintroduce the 4th story for the motion picture production of “Plaza Suite.”

I have come to expect excellence from ONSTAGE In Bedford, and “Plaza Suite” did not disappoint. If anything, this production continues to raise the bar on the amazing quality and talent that ONSTAGE offers its audience.

With the show set in the 1960s, set designer Michael Winters and Charlotte Newman gave us a set rich in detail and vibrant with every color and texture the 1960’s brought with it.

In reading the plot outlines, you may have noticed that several of the actors’ names repeat for different characters. This is not due to lack of performers, but purposeful. Usually, this show is performed with the two main characters of each scene played by the same two actors. ONSTAGE uses a slightly larger cast but monopolizes on the talents of Brandon Jackson and Madyson Greenwood who each play 3 different characters. It was a delight to see them deliver such different characters in each of the three stories.

Although the three stories were all brilliantly performed, I must tip my hat to Robert Banks and Susan Dergoul who played the distraught parents of the bride in the third story. Every line and gesture built layer upon layer of perfect comic timing and suspense. BRAVO!

“Plaza Suite” will run through May 28th. Tickets can be purchased online at www.onstageinbedford.com. Please take the time to also note that coming in June, ONSTAGE In Bedford will perform “Disaster.” It’s a new musical from Broadway, and ONSTAGE is the first regional theater to produce it.

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