Community Players of Salisbury presents the last show of their 76th season, Neil Simon’s “Brighton Beach Memoirs” held at Parkside High School June 13-15, 2014. Directed by Darrell Mullens, “Brighton Beach Memoirs” is Simon’s hilarious semi-autobiographical portrait of a Jewish-American family as seen through the eyes of a 15-year-old boy, Eugene Morris Jerome, played by Mathew Hatfield.
In the post-depression, pre-war-era Brooklyn, the most pressing thoughts on the mind of Eugene are baseball and girls. Living with six other family members under one roof doesn’t afford young Eugene much privacy, but it does provide him with plenty of ammunition for his budding career as a writer. In excerpts from his journal, he introduces his over-worked father Jack, played by Matt Bogdan, his under-appreciated mother Kate, played by Robin Finley his comparatively–worldly older brother Stanley, played by Rick Dilling, his cousins Nora (star-in-training), played by Lilia Dobos and Laurie (the pampered bookworm), played by Rachel Bailey and his widowed, asthmatic Aunt Blanche, played by Susan Rogers. The resulting coming-of-age story is an affectionate, thoroughly entertaining lesson in overcoming hard times with warmth, and humor.
Director Darrell Mullens said: “We all knew someone like Aunt Blanche We all remember the craziness that we came to understand as puberty. We all remember emotional roller coasters that brought us shrieks of laughter as well as tirades and tears. We can go home again, and even if doing so is sometimes painful, it’s important to do it.”
Indeed Eugene does take us home again, to his boyhood home with a family that is filled with love, lessons and laughter. The play brings up gentle reminders of the fear that so many faced during the terror of the Holocaust, a period of history marking a variety of important anniversaries this year and next.
“In only two acts, then, Neil Simon makes us laugh, learn and remember in ways that are entertaining, delightful, tender and poignant. Perhaps most interesting, however, is that in remembering his own past, Neil Simon is perhaps finding the best and the worst in what each of our pasts has to offer us,” Mullins said.
Community Players of Salisbury will present Neil Simon’s “Brighton Beach Memoirs” Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., and Sunday at 2 p.m. at Parkside High School’s auditorium off Beaglin Park Drive.
To order tickets, go online at www.communityplayersofsalisbury.org or call 410-546-0099 to reserve tickets and pay at the door. Ticket prices are $14 for adults, $12 for students and seniors 55 and older.