Wednesday, April 6, 2022

Broadway Theater Review: Plaza Suite with Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick

Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker in Neil Simon's Plaza Suite (Photo by Joan Marcus)

UPDATE
SARAH JESSICA PARKER TESTS POSITIVE FOR COVID TOO. SHOW APRIL 7 IS CANCELLED. CHECK with the Box Iffice for further information on upcoming performances.


Plaza Suite
By Neil Simon
Directed by John Benjamin Hickey
Hudson Theatre
Through June 26, 2022

By Lauren Yarger
Sarah Jessica Parker and real-life husband Matthew Broderick are back together on a Broadway stage for the first time in more than 20 years when they starred in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. Sign me up! I wasn't disappointed as the couple has a chance to display their comedic chops in Neil Simon's Plaza Suite getting a limited revival at the Hudson Theatre -- the first revival of the playwright's work since his death in 2018.

Parker and Broderick play three different couples who, during different times in 1968 and 1969, stay in suite 719 at New York's Plaza Hotel (John Lee Beatty's elegant, subtle-toned set design brings applause). Despite hearing complaints that Simon's script is dated, I found that most of the humor holds up and that except for some derogatory comments about women, some decades-old jokes are made funnier by the audience's informed knowledge. Funny is funny, after all, regardless of the time it is experienced -- Simon didn't achieve fame writing more then 30 plays and books for musicals and receive a Pulitzer for nothing -- and both Parker and Broderick don't disappoint either, under the direction of John Benjamin Hickey. 

Parker distinguishes herself as a solid comedic actress, delivering lines with expert timing and delighting with moments of hysterical physical comedy. The depths of feelings of a woman being betrayed by her husband, a woman longing for the love of her youth and a mother facing the reality that her daughter doesn't want to turn out like her all get full development as well.

Broderick, while somewhat more reserved, gets a few moments of physical comedy as well. His being attacked by birds while on a ledge outside the suite's window (thanks to superb lighting by Brian MacDevitt) has the audience roaring. He also transforms from a boring, stuffy character to a nerdy, silly guy with ease. But whereas Parker indwells the humorous characters and lines, Broderick, who incidentally, won his first Tony Award for creating the role of Eugene Jerome in Simon's Brighton Beach Memoirs, simply delivers his.
 
Adding some dimension to the action between the couples are additional actors playing visitors who stop by the suite:  In act one, Eric Wiegand and Danny Bolero play a bellhop and waiter, respectively, and Molly Ranson is the secretary having an affair with Broderick's character. Bolero returns as a waiter in act two and in the third act, Ranson is the couple's daughter, reluctant to go through with her wedding to Wiegand's character. A 20-minute intermission separates the first two acts and a brief pause follows the second act.

The play ultimately is a serious study of relationships and not all of them fall on the side of happy, despite Simon's comedic technique. Plaza Suite had been scheduled to open on Broadway in 2020 just days before Covid shut down all of Broadway. And now, just days after returning to open 2022, Broderick is out of the show until April 15 after testing positive for the virus. Understudy Michael McGrath is playing Broderick's roles.

If you are picking and choosing shows this year, add this one to your list, especially if you have a chance to see Parker and Broderick together.  The limited run is scheduled through June 26. Tickets and performance information at plazasuitebroadway.com.

Additional credits:
Jane Greenwood (costume design), Scott Lehrer (sound design),  Marc Shaiman (incidental music).

FAMILY-FRIENDLY FACTORS:
-- Derogatory terms about women
-- God's name taken in vain
-- Adultery

Theater COVID POLICY:

When you arrive at the Hudson Theatre, guests age 12 and older will need to provide proof that they are fully vaccinated with an FDA or WHO approved COVID-19 vaccine AND present a government-issued photo ID such as a driver’s license or passport (guests 12-18 may use a government-issued ID or school ID – no photo required), as well as wear a mask inside unless actively eating or drinking.

“Fully vaccinated” means on the date of the performance a guest is at least 14 days after their second dose of a two dose COVID-19 vaccine OR at least 14 days after their single dose of an approved single dose COVID-19 vaccine.

For international guests, TWO doses of any “mix and match” combination of an FDA or WHO approved COVID-19 vaccine are acceptable.

Guests under the age of 12 must be accompanied by a vaccinated adult and provide proof of one of the following:

  • • Full vaccination; or
  • • A negative COVID-19 PCR test performed by a medical provider within 72 hours of the performance start time. The test results must clearly show the date and time of the test; or
  • • A negative COVID-19 rapid antigen test taken within 6 hours of the performance start time. The test results must clearly show the date and time of the test. Tests administered by a medical professional are preferred and will guarantee entry, though over-the-counter, app-base testing kits will be accepted if they clearly provide the date/time of the test results.

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Our reviews are professional reviews written without a religious bias. At the end of them, you can find a listing of language, content or theological issues that Christians might want to know about when deciding which shows to see.

** Mature indicates that the show has posted an advisory because of content. Usually this means I would recommend no one under the age of 16 attend.

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

My Bio

Lauren Yarger has written, directed and produced numerous shows and special events for both secular and Christian audiences. She co-wrote a Christian musical version of “A Christmas Carol” which played to sold-out audiences of over 3,000 in Vermont and was awarded the Vermont Bessie (theater and film awards) for “People’s Choice for Theatre.” She also has written two other dinner theaters, sketches for church services and devotions for Christian artists. Her play concept, "From Reel to Real: The Jennifer O'Neill Story" was presented as part of the League of professional Theatre Women's Julia's reading Room Series in New York in February 2018.

Yarger trained for three years in the Broadway League’s Producer Development Program, completed the Commercial Theater Institute's Producing Three-Day Intensive and other training and produced a one-woman musical about Mary Magdalene that toured nationally and closed with an off-Broadway run.

She was a Fellow at the National Critics Institute at the O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford, CT. She writes reviews of Broadway and off-Broadway theater (the only ones you can find in the US with an added Christian perspective) at http://reflectionsinthelight.blogspot.com/.

She is editor of The Connecticut Arts Connection (http://ctarts.blogspot.com), an award-winning website featuring theater and arts news for the state. She is a contributing editor for BroadwayWorld.com. She previously served as theater reviewer for the Manchester Journal-Inquirer, Connecticut theater editor for CurtainUp.com and as Connecticut and New York reviewer for American Theater Web.

She is a Co-Founder of the Connecticut Chapter of the League of Professional Theatre Women. She is a former vice preseint and voting member of The Drama Desk.

She is a freelance writer and playwright (member Dramatists Guild of America). She is a member if the The Outer Critics Circle (event manager for the annual awards ceremony), The American Theater Critics Association, The League of Professional Theatre Women and the Drama League. She served as a judge for the SDX Awards presented by the Society of Professional Journalists.

Yarger is a book reviewer for Publishers Weekly and freelances for other sites. She is a member of the National Book Critics Circle.

She also is a member of the Episcopal Actors' Guild, the NY Public Library for the Performing Arts and The O'Neill Theatre Center..

A former newspaper editor and graduate of the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, Yarger also worked in arts management for the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts, the Hartford Symphony Orchestra and served for nine years as the Executive Director of Masterwork Productions, Inc. She lives with her husband in West Granby, CT. They have two adult children.

Copyright

All material is copyright 2008- 2018 by Lauren Yarger. Reviews and articles may not be reprinted without permission. Contact reflectionsinthelight@gmail.com

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Key to Content Notes:

God's name taken in vain -- means God or Jesus is used in dialogue without speaking directly to or about them.

Language -- means some curse words are used. "Minor" usually means the words are not too strong or that it only occurs once or twice throughout the show.

Strong Language -- means some of the more heavy duty curse words are used.

Nudity -- means a man or woman's backside, a man's lower front or a woman's front are revealed.

Scantily clad -- means actors' private areas are technically covered, but I can see a lot of them.

Sexual Language -- means the dialogue contains sexually explicit language but there's no action.

Sexual Activity -- means a man and woman are performing sexual acts.

Adultery -- Means a married man or woman is involved sexually with someone besides their spouse. If this is depicted with sexual acts on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Sex Outside of Marriage -- means a man and woman are involved sexually without being married. If this is depicted sexually on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Homosexuality -- means this is in the show, but not physically depicted.

Homosexual activity -- means two persons of the same sex are embracing/kissing. If they do more than that, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Cross Dresser -- Means someone is dressing as the opposite sex. If they do more than that on stage the listing would include the corresponding "sexual activity" and/or "homosexual activity" as well.

Cross Gender -- A man is playing a female part or a woman is playing a man's part.

Suggestive Dancing -- means dancing contains sexually suggestive moves.

Derogatory (category added Fall 2012) Language or circumstances where women are referred to or treated in a negative and demeaning manner.

Other content matters such as torture, suicide or rape will be noted, with details revealed only as necessary in the review itself.

The term "throughout" added to any of the above means it happens many times throughout the show.

Reviewing Policy

I receive free seats to Broadway and Off-Broadway shows made available to all voting members of the Outer Critics Circle and The Drama Desk, the two professional critics organizations with journalists covering NY theater. Journalistically, I provide an unbiased review and am under no obligation to make positive statements. Sometimes shows do not make tickets available to reviewers. If these are shows my readers want to know about (I review all Broadway shows and pertinent Off-Broadway shows), I will purchase a ticket. If a personal friend is involved in a production, I'll let you know, but it won't influence a review. If I feel there is a conflict, I won't review their portion of the production.

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