Broadway Bound is the third and final installment in Neil Simon’s semi-autobiographical cycle of plays about growing up in Brooklyn in the 1930s and ’40s. The prequels are Brighton Beach Memoirs and Biloxi Blues. In 2011, Covedale presented a side-splitting and well-acted Brighton Beach Memoirs, the kind of production audiences have come to expect from a well-produced Simon play. Key performances in this production of Broadway Bound are not as strong, and the play feels tedious. Bound doesn’t possess the warmth or the liveliness of Bright Beach Memoirs.
At the heart of the trilogy is a working-class Jewish family, the Jeromes. Kate and Jack have been married for decades, and their house is home to Kate’s socialist father and two adult sons, Stanley and Eugene. Director Dennis Murphy and many of the same actors who performed in Covedale’s 2011 production of Brighton Beach are involved in this production.
The play’s narrator is the younger son, Eugene, played by a funny and mischievous Matthew Wilson.
He welcomes the audience into the Jerome household with jokes and asides. Bill Hartnett, as Kate Jerome’s ailing, opinionated father, provides the play with most of its zingers and laughter. Stanley, Eugene’s older brother (played by Jason Endicott), has some wonderful acting moments, standing up to his father in the second act.
Tracy M. Schoster plays Kate Jerome, the overworked, underappreciated, wife and mother of the Jerome family. Schoster has a handle on Kate’s rigid, severe side, but her softer, more vulnerable aspect gets lost. David Levy as Jack Jerome, father and unfaithful husband, has no spark or energy. His presence onstage is passive and perfunctory, but then his anger is almost scary. There’s little in between.
Kate’s sister Blanche, played by Tara Williams, makes a lengthy, emotional appearance in the first act. She begs her father to show her some affection (he refuses) and to move to Miami Beach with their mother (he refuses again). The first act drags. It’s hard to care about Blanche when she’s overstaying her welcome.
Unlike its nimble, watchable companion play, Brighton Beach Memoirs, this production of Broadway Bound lumbers to the finish line.
BROADWAY BOUND, presented by the Covedale Center for the Performing Arts, continues through Feb. 17.
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