The AndyGram

Sunday, Jun 26th

You are here: Home Theatre Reviews & Features 2015-16 Reviews 2009-10 Broadway Press Releases Raves for Neil Simon's Brighton Beach Memoirs, directed by David Cromer
Monday, 26 October 2009 10:40

Raves for Neil Simon's Brighton Beach Memoirs, directed by David Cromer




Neil Simon’s Brighton Beach Memoirs opened last night at the Nederlander Theatre (208 West 41st Street) in a new production directed by David Cromer

The following is a sample of the rave reviews for the production, which will be playing in repertory with Broadway Bound (beginning performances on November 18).  

Review by David Rooney

Hats off to the farsighted producers of ‘The Neil Simon Plays’ for taking a risk on their choice of director. While David Cromer's most recent New York hits, ‘Adding Machine’ and ‘Our Town,’ mined piercing depths in timeworn texts, they did so in an austere presentational style that seemed a million miles from the warm-hearted humor of ‘Brighton Beach Memoirs.’ The first installment of a Simon double that continues with ‘Broadway Bound,’ opening Dec. 10, the revival strikes an exquisite balance between comedy and pathos, its impeccable ensemble landing every laugh while exploring every emotional nuance to build a tremendously moving portrait of family life.

Premiered in 1983, Simon's autobiographical play introduced 15-year-old alter ego Eugene Morris Jerome, an aspiring writer whose progression into adulthood was chronicled through the trilogy's subsequent parts, ‘Biloxi Blues’ (1985) and ‘Broadway Bound’ (1986).

It's easy to imagine ‘Brighton Beach’ becoming either mawkish or sitcommy in the wrong hands. But Cromer has wisely opted not to direct it as comedy shaded by poignant moments, instead taking the more sober reverse approach of treating the play as a family drama leavened by humor. That choice pays off beautifully.


Review by Linda Winer

‘Brighton Beach Memoirs’ is not as good as it was in 1983. It is even better. Neil Simon's coming-of-age autobiographical comedy is not as heartwarming as it was when the hit starred young Matthew Broderick and ran three years. It's now also a heartbreaker.

‘Brighton Beach’— the Depression-era memories of a teen named Eugene and his extended family in 1937 - is the first of an audacious coupling of two of Simon's four substantial plays from the '80s. ‘Broadway Bound,’ about many of the same people after World War II, opens Dec. 10, after which both will run in repertory for what deserves to be - oh, I don't know - maybe forever.

David Cromer (the Chicago director known off-Broadway for his bold musical reinvention of ‘Adding Machine’ and the revelatory ‘Our Town’) moves uptown with a high-wire act of old-fashioned tradition and an emotional honesty so acute it feels radical.


New York Post
Review by Elisabeth Vincentelli

The only way ‘Brighton Beach Memoirs’ could be any cozier is if we watched it in pajamas while sipping an egg cream.


Associated Press
Review by Michael Kuchwara

‘Brighton Beach Memoirs’ was first seen on Broadway in 1983 with Matthew Broderick as Eugene. Now it's returned in an enjoyable revival, which opened Sunday at the Nederlander Theatre, with Noah Robbins, a gawky, thoroughly ingratiating young actor, as the play's narrator and anchor. Robbins' self-deprecating charm sneaks up on you as Jerome struggles to deal not only with his parents but the outside world as well.

You could call ‘Brighton Beach’ a comedy-drama, a play peppered with amusing, often jokey dialogue alternating with poignant moments of personal confrontation and reconciliation. Yet the disconnect is not as disruptive as it could be thanks to David Cromer's smooth, seamless direction and an accomplished cast.


Washington Post
Review by Peter Marks

Let's hear it for the boys! To get a most endearing glimpse into the fumbling rites of passage for guys on the verge of manhood, look to the terrific interactions of Noah Robbins and Santino Fontana in Broadway's handsomely crafted new revival of “Brighton Beach Memoirs.”

Robbins and Fontana portray the alternately cantankerous and commiserating teenage brothers in the new staging of Neil Simon's 1983 autobiographical comedy that officially opened Sunday night at the Nederlander Theatre, under the precision guidance of director David Cromer.

Simon has always been a nonpareil joke writer. But at times in his long and prolific career, it's a facility that has gotten in the way of his efforts to penetrate the psyche's deeper caverns. Cromer's accomplishment is to assert some of the work's other qualities, to strike a balance between its wiseacre veneer and its aspirations to poignancy. He does allow the actors their fair share of robust laughs – particularly Robbins, in the role that once made a star of a young Matthew Broderick. Yet the punch lines no longer leave the impression that they have a stranglehold on the evening.

It feels like an eternity since a work by Simon has received this level of trenchant treatment in New York.


Chicago Tribune
Review by Chris Jones

In his distinguished and, frankly, very moving Broadway directing debut, David Cromer mostly does what he has been doing for years in little theaters all over Chicago. He tackles a tired, second-tier play — Neil Simon’s autobiographical “Brighton Beach Memoirs” — that has become clouded with contrivances, cliches and the stamps of star actors, and, in this particular case, expectations over the efficient deliveries of iconic one-liners.

He strips all that nonsense away like so much cheap Broadway bark, and he rediscovers the actual, vulnerable Americans underneath.
Cromer unlocks a big-hearted and aptly autumnal drama about the agonies of parenting, the rewards of loving your brother, the hopes and desires of youth, the confounding difficulty of keeping food on your extended family’s table in 1937, with the world on the cusp of war.

He replaces sentiment with heart. He raises stakes — yes, even the stakes of a Simon play — to an almost existential level.


Entertainment Weekly
Review by Thom Geier

Eugene is played by Noah Robbins, a 19-year-old just out of high school in Maryland who commands the spotlight from the show's opening line and holds it through the final curtain. Eugene may never play for the Yankees, as is his fervent hope, but this kid's a natural. Interestingly, Robbins' stunning, confident, funny performance evokes a young Woody Allen even more than Matthew Broderick — who created the role at age 21, won a Tony Award, and then went onto Ferris Bueller and a Hollywood career.

Robbins' Eugene is a distinctly post-Seinfeld nebbish, and David Cromer's thoughtful direction underscores the universality of the family's experience instead of stooping to borscht belt shtick. As Eugene's hard-working, all-knowing mother, Laurie Metcalf offers a master class in stage characterization. Her every line reading and gesture achieves a double ring: ringing fundamentally true while wringing the text for every possible laugh.

Laughs are, after all, Simon's stock and trade. There are plenty of them in this fine revival, easily the best show of a young Broadway season. A lot of things may have changed in the last quarter century, but this show's punchlines still work. A-,,20315327,00.html


NY1 News
Review by Roma Torre

When I first saw ‘Brighton Beach Memoirs’ by Neil Simon 26 years ago, it was a comedy with drama. In the current revival, it's a drama with comedy. While the script is essentially the same with topnotch actors in both productions, the difference is the direction. David Cromer, fresh from his unique, naturalistic off-Broadway staging of ‘Our Town,’ applies his now trademark directorial magic to the Neil Simon classic. The result is triumphant, as just as it was a huge hit back then, it deserves to be once again.
Word of Mouth Review

It’s been 23 years since Neil Simon’s ‘Brighton Beach Memoirs’ last played on Broadway, but the family dramedy is so well-loved that many theatergoers still have warm memories of the show. Word of Mouth panelists Angie, Phil and Joe didn’t see Brighton Beach the first time out, but were happy to catch up with the Jerome family antics at the new revival which just opened at the Nederlander Theatre. Did they think the play deserved a big-time comeback? They sure did!


Review by Brian Scott Lipton

You can practically hear the ocean in director David Cromer's beautifully calibrated revival of Neil Simon's autobiographical 1983 play, ‘Brighton Beach Memoirs,’ now at the Nederlander Theatre. Then again, even if you could, the sound of the waves coming to the shore would be drowned out by the noisy goings-on in the nearby Jerome household, where the Great Depression, the approach of World War II, and the dreams, longings, and troubles of this archetypal Jewish family are constantly colliding.


THE NEIL SIMON PLAYS are the first Broadway revivals of two of Neil Simon’s beloved Eugene Morris Jerome plays, Brighton Beach Memoirs and Broadway Bound, directed by David Cromer.  

Brighton Beach Memoirs began previews on October 2 and opened Sunday, October 25.  Broadway Bound begins previews on Wednesday, November 18 and opens Thursday, December 10.    Starting on November 18, the two plays will be performed in repertory on a varied schedule at the Nederlander Theatre (208 West 41st Street).   

Brighton Beach Memoirs and Broadway Bound were two of the longest running Broadway plays of the 1980s.  The works ushered in a new era of appreciation for Neil Simon, with praise for the playwright’s hilarious and poignant account of his adolescence, early career and family life in New York in the 1930s and 1940s.

Brighton Beach Memoirs originally opened on March 27, 1983 at the Alvin Theatre and played for 1,299 performances.  (During the run of Brighton Beach Memoirs, the Alvin Theatre was renamed The Neil Simon Theatre).   Broadway Bound opened on December 4, 1986 at the Broadhurst Theatre, where it played for 756 performances.  

Brighton Beach Memoirs stars Laurie Metcalf (Kate Jerome) and Dennis Boutsikaris (Jack Jerome) with Santino Fontana (Stanley Jerome), Jessica Hecht (Blanche), Gracie Bea Lawrence (Laurie), Noah Robbins (Eugene Jerome) and Alexandra Socha (Nora).

Broadway Bound stars Laurie Metcalf (Kate Jerome) and Dennis Boutsikaris (Jack Jerome) with Santino Fontana (Stanley Jerome), Jessica Hecht (Blanche), Josh Grisetti (Eugene Jerome) and Allan Miller (Ben).

Brighton Beach Memoirs centers on young Jewish teen Eugene Morris Jerome and his extended family living in a crowded home in the Brighton Beach section of Brooklyn in the late 1930s: his overworked father, Jack; overbearing mother, Kate; his older brother Stanley; Kate’s widowed sister Blanche and her daughters, Nora and Laurie.  As Eugene spends his time daydreaming about a baseball career, he must also cope with his family’s troubles, his awkward discovery of the opposite sex and his developing identity as a writer.   

In Broadway Bound, it’s the late 1940s and Eugene and Stanley have started their careers as professional comedy writers.  But when the brothers use their home life in Brighton Beach as inspiration for a radio comedy skit, the Jerome family may never be the same.  

Scenic design is by John Lee Beatty, costume design is by Jane Greenwood, lighting design is by Brian MacDevitt and sound design is by Josh Schmidt and Fitz Patton.   Hair and wig design is by Tom Watson. 

THE NEIL SIMON PLAYS are produced by Ira Pittelman, Max Cooper, Jeffrey Sine, Scott Delman, Ruth Hendel, Roy Furman, Ben Sprecher/Wendy Federman, Scott Landis and Emanuel Azenberg

THE NEIL SIMON PLAYS will be performed in repertory on a varied schedule.  Tickets are available at or 212-307-4100.  

# # # #