The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

June 30, 2013

Playhouse production uses scenes from 3 Simon plays

— The newest production at a local theater will combine comic bits of three classic plays into one suite story.

Neil Simon’s “Comic Suites” will premiere July 8-21 at Mountain Playhouse, 7690 Somerset Pike, Jennerstown.

Show times will be 8 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, 2 p.m. Wednesdays and Fridays and 3 p.m. Sundays.

Playhouse producer Teresa Stoughton Marafino has selected funny scenes from three of Simon’s plays – “Plaza Suite,” “California Suite” and “London Suite” – and combined them for a whole new production.

She got the idea from thinking about how the three plays had both funny and serious themes.

“I wanted to laugh, so I thought, what if I took out the serious scenes?” Marafino said. “From idea to approval took about six months. I had to go to Samuel French for the rights, then Simon’s agent.”

Marafino found out later that the concept of taking certain scenes out of his plays to be used in another production wasn’t foreign to Simon.

“He put the serious scenes together in ‘Hotel Suites,’ ” she said. “I’m doing the opposite.”

The only stipulations are Marafino can’t claim ownership or collect any royalties from the production.

“Comic Suites” will feature two acts and four scenes, including “Visitor from Forest Hills” from “Plaza Suite,” “The Man on the Floor” from “London Suite” and “Visitor from Philadelphia” and “Visitor from Chicago” from “California Suite.”

Marafino said the production will use the same set, with changes in decor and furniture positioning to indicate a change in scene.

“Neil Simon is such a good writer,” said director Guy Stroman. “The Mountain Playhouse has produced all of the suite comedies in the past, except “London Suite.” The idea was to do the funniest parts of each of those three shows. We have access to a really talented ensemble of actors, which is what these plays need to work. When Neil Simon himself approved this concept, we were on.”

The ensemble cast will feature Joe Joyce, Martin Landry, John Little, Celeste Mancinelli, Lisa Riegel and Caroline Shannon.

An ice cream social fundraiser is scheduled for 1 p.m. July 14, prior to the 3 p.m. matinee.

Blaine Boring Chocolates will provide a banana split bar for all to enjoy.

The suggested donation is $10 per person or $15 per couple.

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