Broadway Review: PLAZA SUITE (Hudson Theater)

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by Cris Franco on April 14, 2022

in Theater-New York

IT’S SUITE TO BE BACK AT THE PLAZA

A night at the Plaza? With Hollywood royalty? I’m in, how about you? Thus we find three serio-comic tales of love, loss and betrayal all taking place in Suite 719 of New York City’s famed Plaza Hotel.

Set in Manhattan of 1968/1969, Neil Simon’s Plaza Suite is brought lovingly back to life by the famous New York couple of stage and screen, two-time Emmy Award winning Sarah Jessica Parker and two-time Tony Award winning Matthew Broderick. Both are veteran performers with well-honed acting/comedy chops; she is the chameleon to his unifying presence. Armed with this celebrity couples’ natural chemistry, they joyously portray three disparate couples all struggling to figure out the ever-changing rules in the game of love while checked-into the lavish period set by John Lee Beatty against a backdrop of the Manhattan skyline as dusk settles, snow flurries, and rain pelts.

The first vignette, The Visitor From Mamaroneck, finds middle-aged wife Karen (Parker), who can’t remember her marriage anniversary date. She’s obsessed with staging a romantic night in what may (or may not) be the suite in which the now-troubled spouses honeymooned decades ago. In hopes of wooing her distracted husband Sam (Broderick), she fusses with hors d’oeuvres and champagne. Sam is supposedly preoccupied with work but in reality is mostly preoccupied with his secretary (Laurie Veldheer) with whom he is having an affair. Comedy quickly turns to tragedy, with the drama revealing itself through Parker’s determination and Broderick’s growing distance.  The longest of all the acts, this opening scenario establishes the night’s themes: the heartbreak and hilarity love’s many twists and turns can bring.

In act two, Visitor from Hollywood, Parker plays Muriel Tate, a suburban housewife who is resisting reuniting with her high school sweetheart, (Broderick) Jesse Kiplinger. Kiplinger is now a famous, name-dropping producer, with Austin Power-like charms. When Jessie realizes that talk of his rich and famous industry friends works like an aphrodisiac for Muriel, he pumps her full of Vodka Stingers and lists his connections until the spell is cast and she falls into his tender trap. This is the evening’s funniest act and both Broderick and Parker play the absurdity perfectly. Their characters’ timing is spot-on and you see the couple in a divine comic dance that culminates to a hilarious conclusion.  This act alone is worth the price of admission.

The love stories continue into act three, titled Visitor from Forest Hills, where Parker and Broderick morph into Norma and Ray Hubley. The wedding is about to start and the bickering Hubleys frantically flail themselves about the suite as they cajole, negotiate and finally threaten their marriage-averse daughter Mimsey in hopes of getting her to exit the bathroom into which she has bolted herself in her adolescent attempt to avoid walking down the aisle. This act features some terrific physical comedy by Broderick who, after turning himself into a human battering-ram in a desperate effort to break down the bathroom door, goes out the bedroom window and onto the seventh-story ledge in an attempt to break into the bathroom through the outside window – during a rain storm. The Hubleys argue throughout and Broderick reenters the suite drenched but with an understanding that his daughter is scared of tying the knot because she doesn’t want her marriage to end up like that of her parents – devoid of tenderness and filled with petty complaints. Lesson learned.

Kudos to John Benjamin Hickey who deftly directs the stars and the talented supporting cast that includes the very funny poker-faced Danny Bolero as The Waiter, Molly Ranson as Mimsey Hubley, and her unflappable husband-to-be Borden, Cesar J. Rosado at my performance.

Long a comedy staple, Plaza Suite’s two stars breathe new life into this classic three-act by the master Neil Simon who together collectively prove that many things do improve with age.

photos by Joan Marcus

Plaza Suite
Hudson Theatre, 139-141 W. 44th St.
EXTENDED to July 10, 2022
for tickets, visit Plaza Suite on Broadway

{ 3 comments }

John Mcfaul April 17, 2022 at 9:19 am

I had my doubts about seeing this production. Notwithstanding the chemistry between this amazingly talented celebrity couple, would the dated book by Neil Simon seem relevant? After Cris Franco’s comprehensive review, all my reservations were put to rest. I’m checking in to check it out.

Carlos Portugal April 17, 2022 at 12:45 pm

Sounds like a dated show but this review makes me want to go see it. Love the idea of Matthew Broderick and SJP doing comedy together.

Rachel Reyna April 17, 2022 at 2:57 pm

If you have limited funds and are thirsty for a satisfying live-theatre performance, always check with Cris Franco before you buy. His review sent me to PLAZA SUITE, starring two actors with whom we grew up. Even though this show was first performed when Broderick was in grade school and SJP in preschool, the actors bring it to life so beautifully that its age hardly matters. I laughed till it hurt. Go see it.

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