Every hotel room has a story to tell, but Suite 719 at New York's Plaza Hotel has several. Asbury Memorial Theatre will stage some of these stories when they perform Neil Simon's "Plaza Suite."
"This is the second Neil Simon play that the theater has done," says director Ronnie Spilton, who also directed "God's Favorite" in 2012. "It was a substantial success, so we talked about doing another Neil Simon play. 'Plaza Suite' is not only comedic, it has some serious parts as well and it still plays today."
Spilton adds, "Neil Simon is an early Jerry Seinfeld."
"Plaza Suite" originally appeared on Broadway in 1968 starring George C. Scott, Maureen Stapleton and Bob Balaban and was directed by Mike Nichols. It went on to win the Tony Award for Best Director and was nominated for Best Play.
The play is broken up into three acts, each with different characters inhabiting the same hotel room. The first act, "Visitor from Mamaroneck" is about a couple trying to invigorate their rocky marriage by visiting their honeymoon suite, but allegations of infidelity spring up to sour the romantic getaway.
"Visitor from Hollywood" involves a famous movie producer trying to put the moves on an old girlfriend, who is now a suburban housewife. She is just there to meet an old friend and resists his smooth advances.
The third act, "Visitor from Forest Hills" is a slapstick romp in which a married couple desperately tries to calm their daughter when she has locked herself in the bathroom with wedding day jitters.
The way the play is written, only a few actors play the many roles. For example, in the 1971 film version, Walter Matthau played the leading man in each act. In the 1987 television version, Carol Burnett played all three female roles while the male roles were performed by different actors.
"Usually, at the community theater and regional theater level, different people perform the different acts, because it gives more people a chance to participate," says Spilton. "With that in mind, it has been very interesting. It is like directing three separate plays. Now approaching these actors is totally different. I'm dealing with high comedy, lots of stage movement, broad gestures, heavy comic timing, to actually something on a more serious side, in conversation and movement."
Spilton continues, "I did a little tweaking in the production. Although it is still set in 1968, I added some singing, a little entr'acte dancing between a maid and a butler. I added a hallway that goes to the room of the plaza of the proscenium in the audience, just to give it a little injection."
Spilton has worked with several of the actors before and this is her third play at the Asbury Memorial Theatre. "They are wonderful people to work with and amazingly talented. The only thing I complain about is when you build a set you can't nail to the sanctuary floor," Spilton jokes.
IF YOU GO
What: Neil Simon's "Plaza Suite"
When: 7:30 p.m. March 2-3, 9-10; 3 p.m. March 4 and 11
Where: Asbury Memorial Theatre, 1008 E. Henry St.