Broadway Bound is a dream . . . a goal for two brothers working to achieve stardom via writing their own jokes and sketches.
“The final play of the Eugene Trilogy (Brighton Beach Memoirs, Biloxi Blues) Broadway Bound is the semi-autobiographical play closest to Neil Simon’s own life. Broadway Bound premiered on Oct. 6 1986 and opened on Broadway just two months later – becoming a smash hit with 756 performances and winning both Tony and Drama Desk Awards for Best Actress (Linda Lavin) and Best Featured Actor (John Randolph). Broadway Bound was also a finalist for the 1987 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.” – losangeles.splashmags.com/index.php/2018/10/05/broadway-bound-review-neil-simon-struts-his-stuff/
In the Director’s Note of the Broadway Bound program is a nice explanatory comment by director John Olive: “My first experience of seeing a play was a production of The Odd Couple by Neil Simon. This was after seeing the movie which had recently been released and I was challenged by a teacher to go see the play after I remarked I had already seen the film. He was right and this opened up a whole new world for me which I have pursued ever since. I have performed and directed many of his plays throughout my career and have been rewarded for it every time.”
As we walked into the theatre for “Broadway Bound”, we saw enough furniture on the set to over-fill a small apartment or two. We sat about six feet from the back of a sofa, which faced into a dining room with a large console radio, a dining room table and chairs, and additional furniture that disappeared from view as soon as we sat down. To our left was a half-front door than opened into the Jerome family’s home. The set included a stairway to the left that led up to several bedrooms including two that overlooked the set below. John Olive was both the director of the play as well as the Scenic Designer. His Lead Carpenter was Lou Rall, and four more carpenters: Larry Hagerman, Jared Johnson, Aaron Mohs-Hale, and James Venturini. The reason I am careful to explain this detail is the Jerome boys Eugene (Charlie Stevens) and Stan (Chap Wolff) have side by side bedrooms and they constantly travel from one bedroom to the other and back again with loud slamming of doors as they work together writing for a new radio comedy show. The set admirably survived the abuse.
It takes a while to see all the details, but bit by bit we see the Jerome family falling apart. Kate, (Pamela Roza), Eugene (Charlie Stevens) and Stan’s (Chap Wolff) mother is being worn down by life and no one recognizes it.
Finally, Kate, long after the original adultery, confronts her husband Jack about it. At first, he is contrite and then he objects to the accusations from Kate based on the other woman’s health conditions.
The writing team of Eugene and Stan get their foot in the door and write a skit for radio . . . and get paid. They gather at home to listen to the broadcast and see if the ones who count, their family, enjoy what they’ve done. Everyone in the neighborhood has let their neighbors and relatives know about the radio program, from Brighton Beach in Brooklyn to Miami, Florida.
Although friends and neighbors enjoy the production, their grandfather Ben has reservations, and their father, Jack, comes off the rails. The boys made fun of everyone, but people enjoyed the humor. It struck closer to home with the grandfather and the father felt like a target. The father was pretty much a non-entity until the adultery issue came up. That one little crack in the armor of the ego brought angst to the forefront and opened up the play to interpretations, concerns, and circumspection, and, an inward turn for the characters and the audience as well.
With the father out of the house, Kate, the mother, seems to blossom. Although the boys have heard stories of Kate dancing with beginning motion picture star George Raft, neither one has heard the story from her lips. With Jack gone Eugene feels more open to talk with and listen to his mother. He asks about the George Raft story and she tells the entire romantic tale. That one little story told us everything we needed to know about Kate, her family, and their futures.
The boys have their suitcases and their futures in their hands as well as a ton of Kate’s chocolate chip cookies in a box as they leave home to tackle the world. They have tasted minor success and know they can produce more of the same.
“Broadway Bound” runs Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays until October 17th. For more information about individual subscription tickets and the next the season’s shows, contact Lakewood Playhouse at email@example.com.