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Neil Simon Festival to open three plays
Jul 08, 2010 | 172 views | 0 0 comments | 0 0 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Susan Paige Lane as Hannah and Richard Hill as William in the Neil Simon Festival’s 2010 “California Suite.”
Susan Paige Lane as Hannah and Richard Hill as William in the Neil Simon Festival’s 2010 “California Suite.”
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CEDAR CITY – The Neil Simon Festival will open its eighth season of comedy next Thursday with a lineup of three comic favorites, including two by Neil Simon and a show by Robert Harling that is quickly becoming an American comedy classic.

The shows include “Broadway Bound” (the final chapter in Simon’s three-part autobiographical series,) “California Suite” (a series of four vignettes that explores with both hilarity and poignancy the relationships of the couples that move in and out of a California hotel suite) and Harling’s “Steel Magnolias” (the tender story of six gossipy, yet endearing women who share their joys and their sorrows in the confines of a small-town southern beauty parlor.)

Performances begin next Thursday and run in repertory through Aug. 14 at the Heritage Center Theater.

The festival adopted an intimate, three-quarter-round seating configuration last season, which will be used again this year, but now with newly acquired plush theater seats.

Joining the company this season is veteran Salt Lake City actress Carrie Morgan, who will play M’Lynn in “Steel Magnolias,” as well as Kate in “Broadway Bound.” Reprising his character from last season’s “Biloxi Blues” is Jake Koeppl, playing Eugene Jerome in “Broadway Bound.” Other faces familiar to Neil Simon Festival audiences are Richard Hill playing Jack in “Broadway Bound” and multiple roles in “California Suite;” Kristen Henley as Annelle, Chrystine Potter Hyatt as Clairee, Ashley Wilkinson Neves as Truvy, and Whitney Morgan Cox as Shelby in “Steel Magnolias;” Susan Paige Lane and Ellen Treanor playing multiple roles in “California Suite;” and Travis Cox playing Stanley in “Broadway Bound.”

Newcomers to the Neil Simon Festival, but not to the stage, are actresses Shelley Truax (Blanche in “Broadway Bound”) and Jane Williams (Ouiser in “Steel Magnolias,”) as well as actors Jed Broberg (multiple roles in “California Suite”) and Bob Nelson, who will not only play Ben in “Broadway Bound,” but will also serve as the director of “California Suite.”

Matt Neves returns to finish the “BB” series by directing “Broadway Bound.” Matt directed “Brighton Beach Memoirs” in 2008 and “Biloxi Blues” in 2009, as well as several other Neil Simon Festival productions. Festival Founder Richard Bugg will direct “Steel Magnolias.”

Brad Shelton will design sets for all three productions this season. Brad has designed for the Tuacahn Amphitheatre, as well as for the stages at Cal State Fullerton. Other designers new to the company this year include Jasmine Evans – Costumes; Holly Pierce – Lighting; Amanda Bullock – Properties; and Josh Cha – Sound.

The NSF 2010 season is a delightful collection of comedies.

“California Suite” opens at 7:30 p.m. next Thursday. In this play Neil Simon at his most humane, compassionate best. It’s a humorous confection divided into four parts: In “Visitor from New York,” Hannah, a magazine writer, is joined by her ex-husband, the question being with whom should their daughter spend the next six months? “The Visitor from Philadelphia” is a wife who arrives at the suite, catching her husband with a drunken hooker. “Visitors from London” brings a British star as Academy Award nominee. Diana returns from the ceremony empty-handed to husband Sidney whose homosexuality will be no comfort tonight. “The Visitors from Chicago” are two couples ending a disastrous vacation they should not have shared.

“California Suite” contains some strong language and subject matter that would probably earn it a PG-13 in the film world.

Robert Harling’s “Steel Magnolias,” which opens July 16, met with immediate critical and popular acceptance in its premier production by New York’s WPA Theatre. Concerned with a group of gossipy southern ladies in a small-town beauty parlor, the play is alternately hilarious and touching – and, in the end, deeply revealing of the strength and purposefulness which underlies the antic banter of its characters.

Picking up where “Brighton Beach Memoirs” and “Biloxi Blues” ended, part three of Neil Simon’s acclaimed autobiographical trilogy, “Broadway Bound,” finds Eugene and his older brother Stanley trying to break into the world of professional comedy writing while coping with the breakup of their family.

Their efforts to come up with an idea for a comedy sketch sparkle with hilarity. When their material is broadcast on the radio for the first time, the family is upset to hear a comedy rendition of their trials and tribulations. “Broadway Bound” opens July 17.

Ticket information and show times can be found at www.simonfest.org or by calling (435) 327-8673 or (866) 35-SIMON.

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