Originally Published: January 21, 2010 10 p.m.
PRESCOTT - Neil Simon fans may be in for a treat with Prescott Fine Arts Association's production of the famous playwright's "Brighton Beach Memoirs," which opened Thursday.
"'Brighton Beach Memoirs' is a hilarious and sentimental autobiographical account by Neil Simon of his teen years in Brooklyn amidst an overcrowded household filled with eccentric family members learning to live together," PFAAs Suzy Campbell explains. "Filled with crackling one-liners, this award-winning comedy will tickle your funny bone and touch your heart as well."
This is director Catherine Miller Hahn's third collaboration with PFAA.
"This is a straight play with comedy and drama," Hahn said. "It is the first play in a trilogy that Simon wrote."
The seven members of the cast show a high degree of expertise in their roles. The cutaway stage set, built by Clyde Neville and a crew, depicts the first floor of an entire house including two bedrooms, five doors and completely furnished dining and living rooms.
"I've never seen a more elaborate stage set," assistant director Martha Steeves said. "The entire set was built from scratch."
The story takes place in the Jerome family's overcrowded home over the course of a couple of days in 1937. The country is in a depression, racism is rampant and World War II appears inevitable.
Teenager Eugene Jerome, played by Ethan Posey, decides to start writing about his life that he will publish as his memoir after he becomes a famous writer. He falls in and out of love with his cousin Nora, played by Sarah Elliot, and discusses life, love and sex with his brother, Stan, played by James Grandjean.
Other actors include Laurie, played by Kelsey Diefendorf; Blanche, played by Pamela Martin; Kate, played by Kathy Shedd; and Jack, played by Bruce Thompson.
Although the play is considered a comedy, the dialogue at times is serious and covers subjects that range from prejudice to war to sex. Some of the language is explicit and may not be appropriate for young children.
Hahn said that auditions and rehearsals started at the end of November and that theater fans in the future could expect to see the second and third plays in Simon's trilogy.
"Brighton Beach Memoirs" recently played on Broadway. New Yorkers did not treat the play well and it closed after slightly longer than one week. However, Prescottonians may appreciate the actors' chemistry, enthusiasm and the dynamic stage more than East Coast patrons.
Evening performances start at 7:30 p.m. tonight, and Jan. 23, 28, 29 and 30. Tickets cost $16. Matinee performances start at 2 p.m. Jan. 24 and 30, and tickets cost $12.
Tickets are available at the PFAA Theater office, 208 N. Marina St., Prescott, and on-line at www.pfaa.net. The theater's telephone number is 928-445-3286.