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Aisle Seat: Bittersweet Times in Plaza Suite’s Room 719

Updated: Apr 21, 2022

By Naomi Serviss / New York City

Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick

are making hay

acting up a storm

in Neil Simon’s creaky

(but joyously entertaining)

revival of Plaza Suite,

firmly planted in the late ‘60s.

The real-life couple

is charismatically engaging

under the influence of

John Benjamin Hickey’s skillful direction.

The set is pitch perfect

to the period, as are

the groovy clothes and footwear.

Parker and Broderick portray

three sets of different characters

navigating a slew

of complicated relationships.

Shenanigans unfold in Suite 719.

The trio of individual one-act plays

will ring familiar

to those fortunate enough to have attended

the original Broadway show

that enjoyed a robust run

of 1,097 performances.

Claudette Nevins, George C. Scott, and Maureen Stapleton in the original Broadway production of Plaza Suite (1968)
Claudette Nevins, George C. Scott, and Maureen Stapleton in the original Broadway production of Plaza Suite (1968)

Directed by Mike Nichols

Plaza Suite starred George C. Scott

and Maureen Stapleton.

Arthur Hiller’s 1971 film version

placed Walter Matthau

opposite Barbara Harris,

Stapleton and Lee Grant in the three acts.

The movie was considered a failure

by the playwright,

although fans would disagree.

Plaza Suite is more ephemera

than commercial heavyweights like

The Odd Couple and Barefoot in the Park,

but no less entertaining.

Simon’s later, more autobiographical work–

Brighton Beach Memoirs

and Lost in Yonkers–

rewarded viewers

with Simon’s trademark humor

laced with timeless zingers

and biographical morsels.

The current Broadway trifle

is a comfortable vehicle

for these two storied actors

and household names.

Who wouldn’t want to see

Broadway’s royal couple cavort on stage?

Sex and the City,

and its sequel, And Just Like That…aficionados

will get a kick out of

Parker’s all-in commitment

to her character’s ‘60s wardrobe,

even when matronly dressed.

Broderick is a gifted comic actor

who’s proved his chops

time and again

whatever the material.

Married for 25 years,

the pair hasn’t been on stage together

since 1996’s production of

How to Succeed in Business

without Really Trying.

The then-dating couple made sparks fly

with their on-stage chemistry.

Plaza Suite’s revival’s opening

was slated for March 2020,

but as we all know,

Covid put the kibosh on live performances.

How did these two talented actors

find the time and inclination

to anchor this production?

In 2017, the couple tickled the audience

in a staged reading

before an appreciative crowd

at New York City’s Symphony Space.

It was directed by Hickey,

a venerated actor and personal friend

of the two.

The stage was set.


The first act,

Visitor from Mamaroneck,

has Sam and Karen Nash

checking into the same suite

in which they spent their wedding night

23 years past.

Karen’s motivation for booking the suite

gets blindsided

by Sam’s workaholic ways

and eyebrow-raising intimations

of an affair.

It’s a bittersweet mini play,

as Karen longs

for a romantic rekindling.

Sam, business-suited and icy,

is preoccupied with work.

This opener provides plenty of laughs,

but the undertone

is the most serious

of the three.

The second act,

Visitor from Hollywood

is a hoot with

Broderick sporting eye-catching plaid pants

and a turtleneck sweater

(all the rage then).

Muttonchop sideburns telegraph

successful movie producer Jesse Kiplinger’s

devotion to ‘60s style.

His invite to high school sweetheart

Muriel Tate to pay him a visit,

has a surprising outcome

that will not be revealed here!

Costumer Jane Greenwood

and wig master Tom Watson

outfit Muriel in a then-stylish

Pucci print dress (I had one!)

and matching tights, shoes and gloves.

It’s great fun watching Parker

stroll the stage inhabiting

Muriel’s dressed-to-impress character.

Broderick and Parker showcase

their terrific physical comedy chops.

The story may be a tad stale,

but the execution is fabulous.

Sarah Jessica Parker and Mathew Broderick in the “Visitor From Forest Hills” playlet in “Plaza Suite.” (Joan Marcus)
Real-life wife-and-husband acting team Sarah Jessica Parker and Mathew Broderick in Plaza Suite (2022)

The third act,

Visitor from Forest Hills,

is a farcical, zesty romp

that many will recall

from the movie starring Matthau.

The story hinges on prying

Norma and Roy’s daughter Mimsey

out of the bathroom

to take her wedding vows

before an antsy crowd

of friends and relations.

Why revive this old chestnut now?

Why not?

Broadway will always tap

into the steady tourist market

hungry for easily digestible,

lightweight theater.

The tourists are back,

and this production serves

near-perfect family entertainment.

Enjoying three hours of unmitigated joy

(I’m a big Parker fan!)

was a welcome reprieve

from current-event stressors:


–A new Covid variant

-Flying cross country next month

Broadway’s 2021-2022 season

has barely taken a breath

with 19 shows opening or reopening.

It’s been a whirlwind

run-up to the 75th Tony Awards,

to be hosted by Radio City Music Hall

on June 12th.

Audiences are still required

to be vaccinated and masked

through May 31st.

Since live performances

resumed last fall,

5 million attendees have proven

once again,

that theater is not dead.


Naomi Serviss is a New York-based award-winning journalist whose work has been published in The New York Times, Newsday, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Highroads (AAA magazine), in-flight publications, spa and travel magazines and websites, including

1 comment

1 commentaire

22 avr. 2022

Theater is not dead and your writing brings it to life vicariously for me. ❤️

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