Simon’s ‘Brighton Beach Memoirs’ at Oldcastle Theatre
The most popular American playwright in history was Neil Simon, and the comedic master’s best play according to many critics, gets a revival at Oldcastle Theatre. ‘Brighton Beach Memoirs’ opens Friday, July 12, and runs through July 28. Fifteen year old Eugene, modeled on Simon himself, is preoccupied with sex and the Yankees; he is a writer-to-be, alternately perplexed and perceptive, and guide to life in the Jerome family late in the depression. Life is by no means easy; there is illness, unemployment, poverty, deep resentments and foreboding signs of World War II. But as the playwright portrays it, it is neither miserable nor pitiful. His family meets challenges with such enormous spirit, dignity and vigor that life is something to celebrate.
Directed by Oldcastle’s artistic associate Nathan Stith, the cast includes Sarah Corey who received raves from audiences and critics two years ago portraying the same character, Kate, in Oldcastle’s production of ‘Broadway Bound.’ The plays are part of Simon’s trilogy of B plays which are autobiographical and among his biggest hits. Anthony Ingargiola, who played Eugene in ‘Broadway Bound,’ this time plays older brother Stanley, who is facing a dilemma at work. He was also seen playing Huck Finn in Oldcastle’s production of ‘Big River.’ Eli Ganias is Kate’s hard-working husband, Jack. Sophia Garder, an actress with Oldcastle since 1999, returns in the role of Blanche, Kate’s widowed sister who is raising two daughters. She has appeared with Oldcastle in a wide range of shows. DJ Gleason makes his Oldcastle debut playing Eugene. A Philadelphia native, Gleason has appeared in ‘Biloxi Blues,’ the third play in Simon’s trilogy. Kate Kenney plays Nora in her first Oldcastle production. Kristen Herink plays the youngest member of the family, 13-year-old Laurie. Stith teaches at the Trinity University, and this is the beginning of what Oldcastle and Trinity hope will be a continuing relationship bringing students and faculty members to Vermont to work with the theatre company. Stith has worked as an actor and director with Oldcastle for over 20 years. The set design is by Oldcastle’s associate artistic director Richard Howe, costumes by Ursula McCarty, lights by David Groupe, who is also the company technical director and sound by Cory Wheat.
Oldcastle Theatre is located at 331 Main Street in Bennington. For tickets, visit oldcastletheatre.org or call 802-447-0564.