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A Side-Splitting Plaza Suite Plays Northport’s Engeman Theater

Actors Joan Barber and Michael Scott as Mrs. and Mr. Hubley attempting to get their daughter out of the bathroom in Act 3 of Plaza Suite. Photo credit: Michael DeCristofaro.

Actors Joan Barber and Michael Scott as Mrs. and Mr. Hubley attempting to get their daughter out of the bathroom in Act 3 of Plaza Suite. Photo credit: Michael DeCristofaro.

Now playing through July 13, 2014 at John W Engeman Theater in Northport Village is Neil Simon’s hilarious comedy Plaza Suite. Laugh your heart out on Thursdays at 8:00 p.m., Fridays at 8:00 p.m., Saturdays at 3:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m., and Sundays at 2:00 p.m. Tickets are $55 and may be purchased by calling (631) 261-2900, going online at EngemanTheater.com, or by visiting the Engeman Theater Box Office at 250 Main Street, Northport. Plaza Suite is in three acts that each bring on more laughs as different characters appear in the same hotel Suite 719 at New York City’s famous Plaza hotel. Plaza Suite opened on Broadway at the Plymouth Theatre on February 14, 1968 and closed on October 3, 1970, with an original cast that included George C. Scott, Maureen Stapleton, and Bob Balaban.

The first act features a couple visiting from Mamaroneck, played by Joan Barber and Michael Scott. They are celebrating their 24th anniversary, or 23rd, they aren’t sure. They are a couple in their late 40s/early 50s but they look more like they are in their early 60s, which in itself is amusing. Perhaps their troubled marriage has aged them faster. Plaza Suite is just warming up in Act 1 as the couple argue incessantly and his infidelity is revealed to the audience; however, his wife has known all along. “Everybody cheats with his secretary; I expected more from my husband,” says Karen Nash played by Joan Barber. “Go ahead have your affair; you’re 51 in an hour.” Act 2 is hilarious featuring Todd Lawson as a famour Hollywood producer named Jesse Kiplinger who contacts a high school girlfriend who is now a suburban housewife brilliantly played by Gina Milo. Her New Jersey accent is commendable as is the way she grows hot and cold with his advances. “You and your nose just behave yourself,” states the housewife Muriel Tate. “I did not come to the Plaza Hotel to be smelled.”

Living in Beverly Hills, California, Kiplinger has been “married to three bitches who were phony and unfaithful,” he tells Muriel. He has had three hellish, miserable marriages and he is looking for some sympathy to “redeem my faith that there are decent women in the world.”

In Act 3, all four actors return: Joan Barber and Michael Scott again as a married couple. Gina Milo is their daughter Mimsey and Todd Lawson plays her fiancé. This Act really brings on the best laughs as daughter Mimsey has locked herself in the bathroom in Suite 719 in her bridal gown. The mother of the bride played by Joan Barber is unsuccessfully trying to get her out of the bathroom to get married downstairs where the groom-to-be and all the guests are waiting. There are many laugh-out-loud moments as the couple becomes frantic in convincing her to get out of the bathroom and get married. “I want you and your $400 dress to come out right now,” demands the father of the bride played by Michael Scott. “He’s a decent, intelligent, respectable young man.”

Mom rips her stocking and Dad tries to break the door down. “Are you happy, Mimsey? Your mother has torn stockings and my arm is broken,” yells Dad. Then, growing desperate, Dad decides to try to get to the bathroom by going out the window on the ledge. “I’m out here fighting for my life and she’s playing with her eyelashes,” he roars.

Finally Borden, played by Todd Lawson, comes up to the suite to try to convince his bride to come out and get married. He says just two words to Mimsey: “Cool it.” And she finally comes out of the bathroom seconds later. A confused Mom and Dad end this entertaining and uproarious act wondering if their daughter was actually better off in the bathroom.

Plaza Suite is directed by Patricia Zaback whose credits at Engeman include Barefoot In The Park, Over The River And Through The Woods. A Long Island theater veteran, Zaback is the former Artistic Director of the BroadHollow Theater Company which she founded in 1976. She has literally hundreds of directorial credits to her name in her 40 year career. She was the recipient of the 46th Annual George M. Estabrook Distinguished Service Award from Hofstra University, which focuses on identifying and recognizing distinguished and outstanding alumni. Directorial highlights include Lovers & Other Strangers, Bright Ideas, Dividends, Fully Committed, Death Of A Salesman, Misery, The Tale of The Allergist’s Wife, Moon Over Buffalo, Cat On A Hot Tin Roof, Bermuda Avenue Triangle, Smoke & Mirrors and Evita.

Plaza Suite is produced by Richard T. Dolce, the Engeman Theater’s Producing Artistic Director.

The cast features: Joan Barber as Karen Nash and mother of the bride Norma Hubley. Barber’s Broadway credits include Man of La Mancha (Aldonza opposite Richard Kiley and Raul Julia), Beauty and the Beast, Big, A Christmas Carol, King David, The Sound Of Music and Follies. Other credits include: On The Twentieth Century, Dear World, Kiss Me Kate, The Toymaker and Twelfth Night.

Todd Lawson plays Jesse Kiplinger, the Waiter and groom to be Borden. HisEngeman Theater credits are:Barefoot In The Park. Broadway credits: Summer and Smoke. Off-Broadway: One Arm, Levittown. National Tour: A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum.  Other credits: Baltimore Center Stage, Studio Theatre, Cincinnati Playhouse In The Park, The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, Portland Stage, Vermont Stage, Hudson Stage and others.

Characters Muriel Tate (housewife), Jean McCormick (secretary), and the bride to be Mimsey are played by Gina Milo. Her Engeman Theater credits: Little Shop of Horrors and Hairspray.  Broadway credits: Les Miserables (Eponine).  National Tours: Les Miserables, Annie, Best Little Whorehouse. Off Broadway: For Christ’s Sake and Sorority Queen.  Regional: Xanadu, Enter Laughing, Lucky Stiff and Spamalot at Drury Lane for which she received a JEFF award nomination.

Michael Scott as Sam Nash and Roy Hubley has appeared on Broadway in 110 In The Shade, Follies, Showboat, Pirates of Penzance, Happy New Year, The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas. Off-Broadway: Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, The Fantasticks, Dodsworth, Abby’s Song, China Doll and The Drunkard. National Tours: Guys and Dolls, Showboat, Camelot.  Regional: Deathtrap, Stormy Weather, 1776, Chicago, La Cage, 42nd Street, Little Shop of Horrors, Buddy and M. Butterfly.  TV & Film: One Life To Live.

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