Neil Simon’s Plaza Suite provides a window into the human condition and an exploration of human behavior through a series of broken dreams, unfulfilled dreams and fear of future nightmares.
And while described as ‘a comedy in three acts’, Theatre Tillsonburg veteran and producer Carmen Agro is finding it easier to learn his 20 lines for a small part as a butler, than precisely quantify its genre.
“It’s hard for me to pinpoint it. It’s not exactly a drama, it’s not exactly a comedy.”
The action is set in a suite in the Plaza hotel, host to three different parties. The first is a married couple who shared it on their honeymoon, the 47-year-old bride’s (Katy Wells) determination to revisit its comfortable confines for a special anniversary celebration with her 51-year-old husband (Paul Buchner) derailed by an unfortunate truth.
“He’s having an affair with his secretary,” said Agro. “She’s sort of known all along, but confronted him and he finally, finally admits it.”
The second act features a reunion between semi-famous Hollywood producer (Sean McCoy) and a star-struck happily-married mother of three (Shelley Dougherty). They had dated 17 years earlier, and while moving on to very different lives, still have a past and potentially, future connection.
“She wants to be an actress, wants to impress him,” said Agro. “And he’s only got one thing on his mind.
“Maybe he’s trying to make up for missing his chance.”
The producer, “a sleaze ball,” in Agro’s words, attempts to press his suit on ‘a bit of an airhead’ with the assistance of alcohol.
“He’s not really that famous,” Agro added, “but she thinks he is.”
The third and final act features a family trio: father (Pete Matthews), mother (Judy Cormier) and bride-to-be (Jessica Evanitski) who has locked herself in the suite’s bathroom on her wedding day and refuses to come out to answer the wedding bell, so to speak.
“Therefore, chaos ensues,” said Agro.
What does emerge through the locked port is not a flattering comparison.
“She was afraid she and her husband are going to turn into her parents.”
As the second-guessing of themselves and each other continues, the rising pressure of a booked hall downstairs, musicians, wedding feast and the arrival of wedding guests, has the father figuratively tearing his hair out.
“It’s going to be a good show,” Agro concluded, noting ‘things are coming together well,’ through the final stages of rehearsal.
“We do have a strong cast,” said Agro, equally impressed with the work of director Ross Hepburn. “Can’t say enough about his work.”
Plaza Suite opens on the Otter Valley Playhouse stage Thursday (May 1) evening at 8 p.m. Evening performances Friday and Saturday also at 8 p.m. and a 2 p.m. Sunday matinee, a schedule mirrored with a second run May 8-11. Tickets are available for purchase at the Tillsonburg Station Arts Centre or by calling the box office at 519-688-3026.
“Our patrons are very loyal to us and really support the theatre,” Agro concluded. “We do put on a good show, maybe that’s the secret.”