Plaza Suite is a comedy written by the widely celebrated late playwright Neil Simon. A fantastic balance of charm and wit with many touching moments of the sometimes harsh – sometimes beautiful truths within marriages and relationships. This production feels deeply relatable despite the celebrity status of its two stars and real-life partners, Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker, who drive the show with a humble sense of awareness and masterful physical comedy that keeps the audience laughing throughout. The two play a total of six characters within the production and expertly differentiate between them with subtle yet effective physicalities. They make it look so natural I was almost underwhelmed by the seeming ease of it all in the face of their stardom.
Plaza Suite delves into the lives of three couples visiting the same suite in the renowned Plaza Hotel in the late 1960s. Act one follows Sam and Karen Nash, an older couple celebrating their 23rd (or 24th) wedding anniversary. Act two plays out the reunion of Jesse Kiplinger and Muriel Tate, two old sweethearts, meeting once more after many marriages and years apart. Finally, in Act Three, we meet Roy and Norma Hubley, a mother and father helping prepare their daughter for her wedding…or so they hope. This is the first time Broderick and Parker share the same stage since the 1995 revival of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. Still, with 25 years of marriage now under their belts, one has to wonder how much is stagecraft and how much they’re drawing from genuine experience.
Of course, the production would be nothing without the creative team that brings the luxurious suite, and the era in which it thrived, to life. Director John Benjamin Hickey creates an elegant and natural flow of movement through the space, from the living room to the bedroom to the bathroom to the windowsill. The set, designed by John Lee Beatty, cleverly simulates two areas separated by a faux wall, while the back wall boasts a complete row of windows displaying a stately view of the surrounding buildings. Through the windows, the audience can tell the time of day (with the sun setting in the first act) and even the weather. The use of actual water to represent the rain outside was a fascinating feature; one that is being employed more and more in theater these days.
Finally, we come to the costume and makeup, designed by Jane Greenwood. She aids the actors in keeping the characters distinct, from their opulent clothing to their age-changing cosmetics (Broderick’s eyebrows as Roy Hubley notably elicited a communal laugh). This also extended to the appearance of the other three actors in this show, Danny Bolero, Molly Ranson, and Eric Wiegand. However few and far between arrivals, their presence on stage enhanced the production, creating a talented support team for the two stars. Plaza Suite is a heart-warming and playful nod to relationships, marriages, and all that come with them. Grab your tickets here and check out the production for yourself.