Last week Mister and I attended a play at The Odyssey Theatre in Los Angeles: Neil Simon’s “Broadway Bound.”
The 3rd installment of Neil Simon’s autobiographical trilogy (preceded by “Brighton Beach Memoirs” and “Biloxi Blues”), “Broadway Bound” covers family issues as well as Mr. Simon’s first jobs as a writer.
Before the play began, I told Mister I’d never seen a Neil Simon play. Then, after thinking about it for a few minutes, I realized I’d never seen a Neil Simon anything! Sure, I’d seen “The Odd Couple” on television as a kid, but that wasn’t him. It was his brother’s work. (It was based on Neil Simon’s original play, but I never saw that.) Even the film version of his “The Goodbye Girl” escaped me, as I was just a kid when it came out. And don’t you know all my friends managed to see it. Oh well. Such is life.
Anyhoo, Mister and I watched this play with enthusiasm as we knew a member of the cast. Betsy Zajko is truly a wonderful actor and a beautiful human being. We were thrilled to support her and her work. As we settled into the darkened theatre, we were surprised to see another familiar face in the cast – Michael Mantell. It’s a 6-person cast, for cry-eye. What are the odds we’d know 2 of the actors personally?
When all was said and done, I absolutely adored this production. The set is beautiful and the acting is top-notch. Jason Alexander’s direction seemed true to the material and the emotion of the piece. And I admit it – I was a sucker for all of it. The laughter. The heart. The dreams. The disappointments. So much life was displayed in this play. And so much of it felt real.
After the show was over, Mister and I went out with the cast members we knew and talked about the play. They told us Neil Simon had actually attended a performance a few weeks prior. Mr. Simon had watched from his seat in the audience, and later told them how seeing the actors on stage had reminded him of key moments in his real life, moments he’d written about in “Broadway Bound.” Our friends told us Mr. Simon had seemed a little choked up to look back on those life scenes, made real so long ago. To the actors’ credit, those very scenes left me choked up when I saw the play, too. Like I said, so much life.
This production’s run has been extended through 28 September. So if you’re in L.A. (or plan to be) and can make it, I encourage you to head to the West Side and check it out. And if you see Betsy after the show, tell her I sent you, will ya? You can thank me later.