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The Lycoming College Theatre Department will present Neil Simon's "Brighton Beach Memoirs" at 8 p.m. Nov. 12-13 and 18-20, in the College's Mary L. Welch Theatre. The play is suitable for all audiences.
"Brighton Beach Memoirs" is part one of Simon's autobiographical trilogy and a portrait of the writer as a young teen in 1937 living with his family in a crowded, lower-middle-class Brooklyn walk-up.
"What appeals to me most about Brighton Beach Memoirs is the universality of the story," says Grechen Lynne Wingerter, instructor of theatre and director of the show. "Sure the play is set in 1937 New York and chronicles a few days in the life of a struggling Jewish family, but it is ultimately a play about all families and the struggles they face in their daily lives. We can all relate to that in some way or another."
Eugene Jerome, standing in for the author, is the narrator and central character. Dreaming of baseball and girls, Jerome must cope with the mundane existence of his family life in Brooklyn: a formidable mother, overworked father, and his worldly older brother, Stanley. Throw into the mix his widowed aunt, Blanche, her two young, but rapidly aging, daughters, and you have a recipe for hilarity, served up Simon-style. This bittersweet memoir evocatively captures the life of a struggling Jewish household where, as his father states, "If you didn't have a problem, you wouldn't be living here."
According to Wingerter, "Neil Simon has a terrific knack for comedy and it's no mistake he is often referred to as America's greatest living comedic playwright. He is the master of the one-liner, but he also understands that the set-up of the joke is just as important as the punch line – if not more so even. And what makes so many of his characters funny is that they don't realize they are funny themselves. They're simply living their lives. The humor comes from the humanness of the characters – even in some of the more tragic moments. His characters are human – flaws and all. We know them. We laugh and cry with them and we root for them."
The cast includes Taylor Anspach, Molly Collier, Alyssa Allen, Gabrielle Ingarra, Hannah Eyler, Chase Mack and Jesse Shade.
"Dinner and a Show" is scheduled for Friday, Nov. 12, at 6:30 p.m., in the Jane Schultz Room, Wertz Student Center. For ticket reservations, contact the Mary L. Welch Theatre Box Office at 570-321-4048.