The mail at the moment is about as reliable as the weather with strikes and cyber attacks, but I did receive a very pleasant surprise in the post last week when a small line sketch I did and sent a year ago to Matthew Broderick and his wife Sarah Jessica Parker when they featured in the Broadway revival of Neil Simon’s PLAZA SUITE came back signed and dedicated.
The production, which was delayed by over a year due to the Covid Pandemic and temporaily paused while both leads has respective bouts of the bug, opened last February at the Hudson Theater and extended its run to replace the lost performances, finishing on 10 July. This was the first revival of a Neil Simon play following his passing at the age of 91 in 2018.
It originally opened on Broadway at the Plymouth Theater on Valentine’s Day 1968 with George C.Scott and Maureen Stapleton, running for 1097 performances, directed by Mike Nichol, who won the Tony Award for Best Direction.The play, in three acts, is set in Suite 719 of New York’s iconic Plaza Hotel in Midtown Manhatten. Matthew and Sarah play three wildly divergent couples across three vignettes-the first, Sam and Karen Nash revisiting their honeymoon suite to rekindle their love on their 23rd anniversary, only to end in a raging argument when Karen accuses Sam of having an affair with his secretary. The second set of couples, Jesse Kiplinger, a Hollywood movie producer catches up with his old flame, Murial Tate with only one thing in mind and the final act sees parents Ray and Norma Hubley on their daughter, Mimsey’s wedding day, who has locked herself in the bathroom in a state of nervousness, refusing to attend her wedding downstairs.
This was the first time Matthew and Sarah had worked together in 20 years, since both appearing in the final weeks of the 1996 revival of HOW TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS WITHOUT REALLY TRYING. Their performances were well received by both audiences and critics alike. In his Variety review, Daniel D’Addario writes, “Neil Simon’s look at three romantic couples facing down the passage of time is sharp and knowing… thank goodness for Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick, the real-life married couple bring a serious commitment to the spirit of the work, allowing their own personas to throw some meta-textual sparks without overtaking the spirit of Simon. As directed by John Benjamin Hickey, Parker and Broderick provoke, alienate and woo one another, and provide a strong argument for a playwright whose work seems next-to-impossible to subvert.”