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Neil Simon, America’s most successful and prolific playwright in the second half of the 20th century, has passed away at a Manhattan hospital. Suffering from complications due to pneumonia and renal failure, Simon was 91.

Born on July 4, 1927 in the Bronx neighborhood of Manhattan to Jewish parents. Simon’s  childhood was difficult and mostly unhappy due to his parents’ “tempestuous marriage” and financial hardship caused by the Depression, so he sought out humor. His father often abandoned the family and had multiple affairs. As a result, Simon and his brother Danny were sometimes forced to live with different relatives, or else their parents took in boarders for some income. This was later reflected in his plays He and his brother Danny wrote radio and television scripts including the radio series The Robert Q. Lewis Show, which led to other writing jobs. Max Liebman hired the duo for his popular television comedy series Your Show of Shows, for which he earned two Emmy Award nominations. He later wrote scripts for The Phil Silvers Show; the episodes were broadcast during 1958 and 1959. Simon incorporated some of their experiences into his play Laughter on the 23rd Floor (1993).

That’s Art Carney, Walter Matthau

Art Carney and Walter Matthau in the original Broadway run, as Felix and Oscar

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The first Broadway  Simon wrote was Catch a Star! (1955), collaborating on sketches with his brother, Danny. He began writing his own plays beginning with Come Blow Your Horn (1961), which  ran for 678 performances on Broadway. It was followed by two more successful plays, Barefoot in the Park (1963) and The Odd Couple (1965), for which he won a Tony Award. The Odd Couple, was adapted into a film in 1967, but became a popular sitcom on ABC from 1970-1975, was adapted for another ABC show in 1982 and a CBS show in 2015.

Next came  The Good Doctor, God’s Favorite, Chapter Two, They’re Playing Our Song, I Ought to Be in Pictures, Brighton Beach Memoirs, Biloxi Blues, Broadway Bound, Jake’s Women, and The Goodbye Girl . Simon dominated Broadway releasing a new play almost every year from 1961 to 1993. He slowed down in the later half of the 1990s, though his plays were playing all over the country. Simon also created the scripts for five hit musicals, screenplays, 27 of them that included film adaptations of his own stage productions and two volumes of memoirs. In 1966 Sweet Charity, The Star-Spangled Girl, The Odd Couple and Barefoot in the Park were all playing on Broadway at the same time. During mid-1980s – Simon also had four shows on Broadway running at the same time. This had only ever done in the 1920s.

 

His 1991 play Lost In Yonkers, won Simon the Pulitzer Prize for drama and was the only play that year to be nominated by all five jury members, who called it ‘a mature work by an enduring (and often undervalued) American playwright’.

Simon won four Tonys, one for special achievement and the Mark Twain prize for humor. Simon has received more combined Oscar and Tony nominations than any other writer.

Simon was married five times, to dancer Joan Baim (1953–1973), actress Marsha Mason (1973–1983), twice to actress Diane Lander (1987–1988 and 1990–1998), and to actress Elaine Joyce (1999-2018). His first wife died of bone cancer in 1973. He is the father of Nancy and Ellen, from his first marriage, and Bryn, Lander’s daughter from a previous relationship whom he adopted. His nephew is U.S. District Judge Michael H. Simon and niece-in-law is U.S. Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici.

In 2004, Simon received a kidney transplant from his long-time friend and publicist Bill Evans. He died on August 26, 2018, after being on life-support while hospitalized for renal failure. Simon also had Alzheimer’s disease.

Simon’s body of work will stay with us forever, especially his theatre work which set the bar. You will be missed and certainly were beloved.

  • Come Blow Your Horn (1961)
  • Little Me (1962)
  • Barefoot in the Park (1963)
  • The Odd Couple (1965)
  • Sweet Charity (1966)
  • The Star-Spangled Girl (1966)
  • Plaza Suite (1968)
  • Promises, Promises (1968)
  • The Last of the Red Hot Lovers (1969)
  • The Gingerbread Lady (1970)
  • Star Spangled Girl (1971)
  • The Prisoner of Second Avenue (1971)
  • The Sunshine Boys (1972)
  • The Good Doctor (1973)
  • God’s Favorite (1974)
  • California Suite (1976)
  • Chapter Two (1977)
  • They’re Playing Our Song (1979)
  • I Ought to Be in Pictures (1980)
  • Fools (1981)
  • Brighton Beach Memoirs (1983)
  • Biloxi Blues (1985)
  • Broadway Bound (1986)
  • Rumors (1988)
  • Lost in Yonkers (1991)
  • Jake’s Women (1992)
  • The Goodbye Girl (1993)
  • Laughter on the 23rd Floor (1993)
  • London Suite (1995)
  • Proposals (1997)
  • The Dinner Party (2000)
  • 45 Seconds from Broadway (2001)
  • Rose’s Dilemma (2003)

Suzanna, co-owns and publishes the newspaper Times Square Chronicles or T2C. At one point a working actress, she has performed in numerous productions in film, TV, cabaret, opera and theatre. She has performed at The New Orleans Jazz festival, The United Nations and Carnegie Hall. She has a screenplay and a TV show in the works, which she developed with her mentor and friend the late Arthur Herzog. She is a proud member of the Drama Desk and the Outer Critics Circle and was a nominator. Email: suzanna@t2conline.com

Broadway

Patti LuPone Returns to Broadway and The Big Screen

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Three-time Tony Award winner Patti LuPone, who gave up her Equity card in 2022, will star opposite Mia Farrow in Jen Silverman’s new play, The Roommate. The production will be directed by Jack O’Brien and will begin previews at the Booth Theatre in August ahead of a September opening.

The Roommate tells the story of Sharon, in her mid-fifties, who is recently divorced and needs a roommate to share her Iowa home. Robyn, also in her mid-fifties, needs a place to hide and a chance to start over. But as Sharon begins to uncover Robyn’s secrets, they encourage her own deep-seated desire to transform her life completely. A dark comedy about what it takes to re-route your life – and what happens when the wheels come off.

The Roommate premiered at the Actor’s Theatre of Louisville in March 2015, and has had several regional productions including at Williamstown Theatre Festival in 2017.

Ms. LuPone will star in the upcoming Marvel series, WandaVision spinoff series Agatha: Coven of Chaos. She’s in a coven of witches, playing Lilia Calderu, who is hot, with a great body and hair. Calderu, first appeared in Marvel comics in 1973 as a 450-year-old Sicilian witch whose power is divination and whose trial is tarot. The other witches are Kathryn Hahn, Aubrey Plaza, and a familiar who is played by Joe Locke. Locke, is currently on Broadway in Sweeney Todd.

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Broadway

Cabaret Celebrated Broadway Legend Joel Grey’s Birthday

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Last night, Eddie Redmayne currently in previews as the ‘Emcee’ in Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club celebrated Broadway legend Joel Grey’s 92ndbirthday on stage at the August Wilson Theatre. Grey, who originated the role of the ‘Emcee’ on Broadway in 1966 and went on to star in the beloved film of Cabaret, took the stage as the entire cast, band, and creative team sang “Happy Birthday” while a custom cake, shaped like a giant pineapple, emerged from the stage.

 During his speech honoring Grey, Eddie Redmayne said, “Tonight is an extraordinarily special night for us because we are in the presence of an extraordinary human being without whom none of us would be here.” After thunderous applause, Redmayne continued “Your performance in this part changed my life and it was one of the things that made me want to be an actor.”

Joel Grey, Gayle Rankin, and Eddie Redmayne Photo by Jenny Anderson

The cast and Grey were also joined on stage by Cabaret composer John Kander.

Alongside Joel’s daughter Jennifer Grey and Kander, a star-studded crowd came out to fete the theater icon including Anderson Cooper, Candice Bergen, Jackie Hoffman, Jane Krakowski, Lin-Manuel Miranda, David Rockwell, and more. They were joined by numerous alum of Cabaret spanning the decades including Maude Apatow (Sally Bowles in London, 2023), Madeline Brewer (Sally Bowles in London, 2022), Joely Fisher (Sally Bowles on Broadway, 2000), Gina Gershon (Sally Bowles on Broadway, 2001), Mason Alexander Park (Emcee in London, 2023), Adam Pascal (Emcee on Broadway, 2003), Molly Ringwald (Sally Bowles on Broadway, 2002), Jake Shears (Emcee in London, 2023), and Brooke Shields (Sally Bowles on Broadway, 2001).

Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club is now in previews on Broadway at the August Wilson Theatre (245 West 52nd Street). The production, directed by Olivier Award winner Rebecca Frecknall and designed by Tony Award nominee and Evening Standard Award® winner Tom Scutt, will have decadent twin opening night gala celebrations starting Saturday, April 20 and continuing into the following night, with the official press opening on Sunday, April 21. Tickets are on sale now at www.kitkat.club or via Seat Geek HERE.

In addition to Redmayne, Cabaret also stars Gayle Rankin as the toast of Mayfair ‘Sally Bowles, two-time Tony Award winner Bebe Neuwirth as ‘Fraulein Schneider,’ Tony Award nominee Ato Blankson-Wood as ‘Clifford Bradshaw,’ Obie Award winner and Drama Desk Award® nominee Steven Skybell as ‘Herr Schultz,’ Henry Gottfried as ‘Ernst Ludwig,’ and three-time Helen Hayes Award winner Natascia Diaz as ‘Fritzie/Kost.’

The cast of Cabaret includes Gabi Campo as ‘Frenchie,’ Ayla Ciccone-Burton as ‘Helga,’ Colin Cunliffe as ‘Hans,’ Marty Lauter as ‘Victor,’ Loren Lester as‘Herman/Max,’ David Merino as ‘Lulu,’ Julian Ramos as ‘Bobby,’ MiMi Scardulla as ‘Texas,’ and Paige Smallwood as ‘Rosie.’ Swings include Hannah Florence, Pedro Garza, Christian Kidd, Corinne Munsch, Chloé Nadon-Enriquez, and Karl Skyler Urban.

The Prologue Company, the dancers and musicians that welcome audiences to the club, feature dancers Alaïa, IRON BRYAN, Will Ervin Jr., Sun Kim, Deja McNair and swings Ida Saki and Spencer James Weidie. The musicians of the Prologue are Brian Russell Carey (piano & bass), Francesca Dawis (violin), Keiji Ishiguri (dedicated substitute), Maeve Stier (accordion), and Michael Winograd (clarinet).

For this thrilling production of Cabaret, the creative team have transformed the August Wilson Theatre into the Kit Kat Club with an in-the-round auditorium and custom spaces which guests will be invited to explore during the Prologue, the production’s pre-show entertainment. After purchasing tickets, guests will receive a “club entry time” to allow them to take in the world of the club before the show starts.

Patrons can upgrade their experience at the Kit Kat Club with exclusive dining or drinks packages that allow them to soak up the pre-show atmosphere. These various upgrades offer unparalleled service and unique experiences in the heart of the Kit Kat Club. Drinks can be enjoyed before and during the show, while food will be cleared shortly before the performance begins, ensuring uninterrupted and unmissable views of Cabaret. For a complete menu and more information on the upgrade packages, please visit www.kitkat.club/upgrade.

The 2021 Original London Cast Recording of Cabaret featuring Eddie Redmayne and recorded during a live performance is available on Decca Records as a CD and to stream on all major platforms. To order the album or stream it, please visit https://cabaret.lnk.to/ListenNow

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Broadway

Stephen Sondheim Memorabilia to be Auctioned Off

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Stephen Sondheim

Doyle Auctioneers & Appraisers has announced the auction of the Collection of Stephen Sondheim on Tuesday, June 18 at 10am EDT. This landmark auction will offer over 200 lots of memorabilia, furnishings, antique puzzles and more from Mr. Sondheim’s Manhattan townhouse and his country home in Roxbury, Connecticut.

Poster for the 2006 Broadway revival of Company signed by Stephen Sondheim and George Furth

The lyricist of West Side Story and Gypsy and composer/lyricist of Company, Follies, Sweeney Todd, Sunday in the Park with George and Into the Woods, among many others, Stephen Sondheim was the twentieth century’s most brilliant and influential contributor to American musical theater. Fans of Mr. Sondheim’s musicals and collectors alike will delight at the memorabilia within the auction, from his gold record for West Side Story to his custom-embroidered asylum coat from Sweeney Todd.

In addition to professional accomplishments, Mr. Sondheim was a sophisticated collector. He lived among antiques and curiosities of the Victorian and Edwardian eras and assembled an unparalleled collection of early puzzles, games, rebuses, coin-operated machines and ephemera that reflected his endlessly inquisitive mind.

The public is invited to the exhibition on view from June 14 through 17 at Doyle, located at 175 East 87th Street in New York. Select highlights will tour Doyle’s regional galleries during the month of May. The auction catalogue will be available on May 20. Learn more about the auction at Doyle.com

 

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Broadway

Live From The Hotel Edison Times Square Chronicles Presents Pascale Roger-McKeever and Tony Award nominee Austin Pendleton

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“Live From The Hotel Edison Times Square Chronicles Presents”, is  filmed live every Wednesday from 5 – 6 in the lobby of the iconic Hotel Edison, before a live audience. This particular episode was filmed in two parts at different times due to the weather and extenuating circumstances.

 

In this episode T2C’s publisher and owner Suzanna Bowling talks with Pascale Roger-McKeever and Tony Award nominee Austin Pendleton.
We are so proud because the show and our guests are now featured on the TV screens in the lobby and the hotel rooms.

Austin Pendleton, Suzanna Bowling

Suzanna Bowling, Pascale Roger-McKeever

I am so grateful to my guests Pascale Roger-McKeever and Austin Pendleton. for joining me.

Austin Pendleton, Rommel Gopez, Suzanna Bowling

Rommel Gopez, Suzanna Bowling, Pascale Roger-McKeever

Thank-you Magda Katz for videoing and creating the content to go live, the audience who showed up to support us, Rommel Gopez and The Hotel Edison for their kindness and hospitality.

Austin Pendleton

Suzanna Bowling, Pascale Roger-McKeever, Craig J Horsley

Suzanna Bowling

Pascale Roger-McKeever will be starring in Fingers and Spoons directed by Tony Award nominee Austin Pendleton. Soho Playhouse 15 Vandam Street. starting on April 25th.

Roger Sichel, Austin Pendleton, Rommel Gopez, Suzanna Bowling

You can catch us on the following platforms:

Pandora:

https://www.pandora.com/podcast/live-from-the-edison-hotel-times-square-chronicles-presents/PC:1001084740

Stitcher:

https://www.stitcher.com/show/1084740

Spotify:

Amazon:

https://music.amazon.com/podcasts/e3ac5922-ada8-4868-b531-12d06e0576d3

Apple Podcasts:

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/live-from-the-edison-hotel-times-square-chronicles-presents/id1731059092

We hope to see you there on April 17th. We will be announcing our guests tonight.

All photo’s except for the picture with Roger are by Roger Sichel.

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Broadway

Annette Bening, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Hugh Jackman Introduce Entertainment Community Fund Campaign

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Last night at the Entertainment Community Fund, (formerly The Actors Fund) gala, they announced the $160 million ESSENTIALCampaign: a bold and comprehensive effort that will combine all of the organization’s fundraising, allowing the Fund to serve more people in more places. The campaign will support expanding and sustaining Fund services; growing the Emergency Relief Reserve Fund to allow the Fund to respond immediately to the next crisis that will impact the entertainment community; and support mission-critical capital projects.

Within these tentpoles, specific goals include tripling the number of people the Fund serves; executing an innovative digital engagement strategy that includes the roll-out of a new client portal funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Digital Accelerator Program; reaching more people in additional communities with services such as scholarships, mental health services, insurance and career counseling; complete construction of The Hollywood Arts Collective, a complex in the heart of Hollywood that combines 151 units of affordable housing with an arts building and a new home for the Fund’s Western Region offices; upgrading the Actors Fund Home, an assisted living, skilled nursing and rehabilitation residence for seniors in New Jersey; modernize The Schermerhorn and The Dorothy Ross Friedman affordable housing residences in New York; and creating an Affordable Housing Catalyst Fund to stimulate investment in new projects.

Fundraising for the ESSENTIAL Campaign began in 2022, with contributions already made by individuals, foundations, corporations, unions and guilds. An additional $1.1 million was raised at the gala last night.

Led by Honorary Co-Chairs Annette Bening and Brian Stokes Mitchell, the ESSENTIAL Campaign Committee also includes Co-Chairs Hugh Jackman, Chris Keyser, Kenny Leon, Matthew Loeb, Shonda Rhimes and Robert Wankel. Committee members include Greg Berlanti, Janice Reals Ellig, Robert Greenblatt, David Henry Hwang, Sharon Karmazin, Brooke Kennedy, James L. Nederlander, Ruth Nerken, Laura Penn, David Rambo, Lauren Reid, Kate Shindle, Henry Tisch and Lisa Ann Walter.

This morning, Campaign Co-Chair Hugh Jackman shared this special message in celebration of the public launch that can be viewed

“The Entertainment Community Fund has been a longstanding cornerstone in our industry, lending support and meeting the unique needs of thousands of people. Still, more of our colleagues need help, and it will take all of us to support the transformative ESSENTIAL Campaign and ensure that the Fund reaches as many individuals who need these services as possible,” shared Committee Co-Chair Shonda Rhimes.

Bening and Mitchell added, “As Board Chairs for the Entertainment Community Fund and as Honorary Co-Chairs for the ESSENTIAL Campaign, we are tremendously grateful to everyone who has already supported this fundraising initiative and to those who will help us meet our goal. With significant campaign contributions already distributed to provide much-needed services to our community, the Fund is already impacting the lives of more people in more places.”

For more information and to learn how you can support the ESSENTIAL Campaign, please visit entertainmentcommunity.org/Essential.

In addition to announcing the exciting campaign, the evening celebrated Sonia Friedman CBE, Olivier and Tony Award-winning producer; Seth MacFarlane, Founder, Fuzzy Door and Award-winning writer, actor, director, producer and singer; and Warner Bros. Television Group, Emmy-winning producer of scripted, unscripted and animated programming, as they received the Entertainment Community Fund Medal of Honor.

Special guests, presenters and performers included Kelsey Anderson, Eric Bauza, Michael Evans Behling, Annette Bening, Melissa Benoist, Kola Bokinni, Holly Ann Butler, John Cardoza, Corey Cott, Hannah Cruz, Stephen Daldry, Cristo Fernández, Maria Friedman, Drew Gehling, Liz Gillies, Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Hawley Gould, Joey Graziadei, Bonita Hamilton, Shanola Hampton, Brian d’Arcy James, Leslie Rodriguez Kreitzer, McKenzie Kurtz, Camryn Manheim, Julia Mattison, Allyson Tucker Mitchell, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Katherine Oliver, Greta Onieogou, Cassadee Pope, Dennis Stowe, L. Steven Taylor, Ryan Vasquez,Joy Woods, Chip Zien and more.

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