AUGUST 27 - OCTOBER 3, 2015
Laughter on the 23rd Floor
By Neil Simon
Directed by Lesley Abrams
Featuring Noam Shahar, Stephen Frankenfield, Steve Wood, Matthew C. Copley, Brian Wees, Bree Boyd, Chris Moseley, Lucille Petty, and Dean Steeves
ABOUT THE PLAY
Inspired by Neil Simon’s youthful experience as a staff writer on Sid Caesar’s Your Show of Shows, you’ll laugh non-stop at the comic drama as the harried writing staff frantically scrambles to top each other with gags, while competing for the attention of star madman “Max Prince”.
“Old style comedy : fast and furious.” – The Wall Street Journal
“One of [Simon’s] funniest…Comedy, comedy all the way.” - Newsweek
Produced by Special Arrangement with Samuel French, Inc.
Contains Adult Language
August 27 - October 3, 2015
Previews: August 27 and 28 at 7:30 PM
Opening Night : Saturday, August 29 at 7:30 PM
Thursday, Friday and Saturday Nights at 7:30 PM
Sunday Afternoons at 3:00 PM
Previews & Thursday Tickets: $14
General Admission: $20
Students, Seniors 62+, & Military: $18
LAUGHTER ON THE 23RD FLOOR is first and foremost a comedy; the characters are funny people who do and say funny things in funny ways with funny results.
It’s also a memoir based on playwright Neil Simon’s backstage tenure as a writer for Sid Caesar’s Your Show of Shows. For those of a certain age Caesar was the first great television comedian; and his writers were the best in the business: Mel Brooks, Larry Gelbart, Carl Reiner, Woody Allen (among others slightly less famous) all got their start writing for Sid Caesar. It was Neil Simon’s first writing gig and he remembers it – and the people he worked with there – with great fondness.
'LAUGHTER' is also a tiny piece of history; a glimpse into the undercurrent of fear and anxiety that permeated American cultural life when Senator Joseph McCarthy wielded great power in Congress and Joseph Stalin reigned supreme in Russia. The blacklist and the Cold War are the minor characters in Simon’s play; never seen and always backstage, but definitely part of the action.
Finally, LAUGHTER ON THE 23RD FLOOR is a poke in the nose to the network television executives who forced Sid Caesar to dumb down his product, and then off the air. Despite the Emmy awards, despite the high ratings, the network stopped trusting that the American audience could find traction with the urban ‘Noo-Yawk’, so-called “sophisticated” humor that Caesar and his writers did so very well. Through many years of performing comedy myself, I have learned that it is always a mistake to underestimate your audience.
But more than nostalgia or history, LAUGHTER ON THE 23RD FLOOR is a snapshot of a handful of talented writers who created popular entertainment and yet never felt as comfortable outside the insanity of the writer’s room as they were inside. As one of the characters says, “….maybe we’ll never have this much fun again in our entire lives.” Perhaps not. But let the hilarity begin!
- Lesley Abrams, Director
ABOUT THE PLAYWRIGHT
NEIL SIMON was born on July 4, 1927 in New York City. He started in show business as a comedy writer, collaborating with talents like Woody Allen and Mel Brooks. Simon began writing plays in the 1960s—the first in a long list including Barefoot in the Park and The Odd Couple, as well as the autobiographical Brighton Beach Memoirs. He is also an accomplished screenwriter and the winner of a Pulitzer Prize for his 1991 play Lost in Yonkers.
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
LESLEY ABRAMS (Director) previously directed FRANKIE AND JOHNNY IN THE CLAIR DE LUNE and is thrilled to be directing this talented cast in this very funny play. She is co-founder of the LaughingStock Comedy Company, which specializes in creating customized, improvised comedy for business audiences nationwide. She has acted locally in productions of WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF (Mac Award, Best Actress) THE LION IN WINTER, DOROTHY PARKER’S LAST CALL (which she wrote and performed at LTW last season ), IMMORTAL LONGINGS, DOUBT, STEEL MAGNOLIAS, NOISES OFF, SISTER MARY IGNATIUS EXPLAINS IT ALL FOR YOU, and FROZEN (MAC Award, Best Actress.) She proudly serves as the pastor for St John on the Desert Presbyterian Church (USA).
LUCILLE PETTY (Helen) is so happy to be back on the Mainstage at LTW. You may have seen her previously here in ENCHANTED APRIL, HARVEY and PICNIC, in many an ATT production, and with Etcetera in JAILBAIT, THE BOOK OF LIZ, ROBOTS VS. FAKE ROBOTS, THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW and MR. MARMALADE. Lucille is an Ensemble member with Winding Road Theater Ensemble, roles, and shows there including Mariah Mills in UNITED, Sally Bowles in CABARET (2013 Mac Award Nomination, Best Actress, Musical), Diwata in SPEECH & DEBATE (2012 Mac Award Nomination, Best Actress) FIFTH OF JULY and ARMOR. She's also performed with Invisible Theatre in FOX ON THE FAIRWAY, CIRCLE MIRROR TRANSFORMATION, and I AND YOU, for which she won the 2014 Mac Award for Best Actress. She's also appeared with Arizona Onstage Productions in STEEL MAGNOLIAS (2012 Mac Award Nomination, Best Actress), Sacred Chicken Productions in BECKY'S NEW CAR, and with Beowulf Alley in LYSISTRATA and WHAT IS THE CAUSE OF THUNDER? She can be seen next as Joan of Arc in Winding Road Theater Ensemble's production of SAINT JOAN.
BRIAN WEES (Kenny) spent his early years honing his skills on the stages of Washington D.C. and New York City, most notably as an original cast member in Joseph Papp’s Off-Broadway production of HAGAR’S CHILDREN. Since moving to Tucson, Brian has appeared in numerous productions including Live Theatre Workshop's CAUGHT IN THE NET, CHAPTER TWO, PICNIC and ALL MY SONS; Quintessential Stage’s A SKULL IN CONNEMARA and THE WEIR; Beowulf Alley’s OF MICE AND MEN; Brachiate’s MACBETH; Borderlands’ GUANTANAMO; The Rouge’s THE DEAD; Arizona Repertory Theatre’s RUM & COKE; Winding Road’s A HUMAN EQUATION; and Invisible Theatre’s CIRCLE MIRROR TRANSFORMATION.
STEPHEN FRANKENFIELD (Milt) is the Assistant Director of Children’s Education here at LTW. He was last seen on LTW’s mainstage in THE COLUMNIST and THE GAMES AFOOT OR, HOLMES FOR THE HOLIDAY. Other notable acting credits on the mainstage, where he has been a staple for over 12 years, include IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE, TWO INTO ONE, THE RAINMAKER, BAREFOOT IN THE PARK, RUN FOR YOUR WIFE, ARSENIC AND OLD LACE, I HATE HAMLET, DEARLY DEPARTED, CAUGHT IN THE NET, FUNNY MONEY, THE MYSTERY OF IRMA VEP, and TUNA CHRISTMAS. His most recent directing credits include BOEING BOEING and SOUVENIR. Other directing credits include SEE HOW THEY RUN, MOON OVER BUFFALO, DON’T DRESS FOR DINNER. He wrote and directed All Together Theatre’s production of THE GREAT ZANTINI AND THE MAGIC THIEF, and co-wrote and co-directed the ATT production of WINSTON MCPEPPER AND THE VERY PUPPET-Y PROBLEM. He has been nominated for 5 Arizona Daily Star Mac Awards, three times for acting and twice for directing. Stephen is a graduate of The American Academy Of Musical and Dramatic Arts in New York City.
CHRIS MOSELEY (Max) is happy to be returning to Live Theatre Workshop. He was last seen in LTW’s production of THE COMPLETE WORKS OF WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE (ABRIDGED). Chris received his Master of Fine Arts degree from the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco, and is currently the theater arts director for two high school theater programs; Palo Verde Magnet High and Catalina High School. Other productions Chris has been involved in at LTW are THE COCKTAIL HOUR, BEAU JEST, CLOUD NINE and BELL, BOOK AND CANDLE.
DEAN STEEVES (Ira Stone) is honored to play with such a talented cast as he makes his stage-acting debut in LAUGHTER ON THE 23RD FLOOR. He is a performing partner of the LaughingStock Comedy Company, performing customized comedy shows for corporate and association special events since 1993. (www.laughing.com)
NOAM SHAHAR (Lucas Brickman) is a cool guy who is performing now in his second mainstage production at LTW; his first being THE CHOSEN. He also acted in FIDDLER ON THE ROOF and LES MISERABLES (St. Gregory High School) and MACHINAL (Arizona Theater Company). He won best duo scene two years in a row for 2012 and 2013 at the Arizona Thespian Conference. He majored in Theater Arts for a semester at the UA and is currently looking for a job but will hopefully have one by the time you read this.
MATTHEW C. COPLEY (Brian) is a native Tucsonan and a graduate of the University of Arizona with a degree in Theatre Education. Matthew most recently appeared on the LTW Mainstage in MOVE OVER MRS. MARKHAM. Matthew's previous work at LTW includes the Mainstage productions of THE COMPLETE WORKS OF WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE (ABRIDGED) [REVISED] and PHOTOGRAPH 51, as well as the Etcetera productions of ROMEO AND JULIET and PLAYING WITH FIRE (for which he also designed and created the Special FX Makeup). Some of Matthew's additional acting credits include STONES IN HIS POCKETS with Beowulf Alley; HOT L BALTIMORE with The Nathalia Stage Ensemble; MACBETH, RICHARD III, and A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM with Tucson Community Theater; THE COMPLETE WORKS OF WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE (ABRIDGED), THE SINS OF SOR JUANA, and multiple appearances in the annual productions of A TUCSON PASTORELA with Borderlands Theater; A MACBETH with METAtheatre; REAL LIVE DEATH with a.k.a. Theatre; and THE WATER with The iDiOM Theater in Bellingham, Washington. Matthew would like to thank his amazing family for their never-ending love and support.
STEVE WOOD (Val) previously appeared on the LTW mainstage in productions of CLOUD 9, ALL MY SONS, MAURITIUS, VISITING MR. GREEN, LOOT, MOLLY SWEENEY and THE COLUMNIST. He has appeared in a number of productions throughout Tucson, including THE BOOK OF LIZ, SAY YOU LOVE SATAN, ROBOTS VS. FAKE ROBOTS, KILLER JOE, and KITTY KITTY KITTY, BEYOND THERAPY, DIRTY SECRETS, THE GAYEST CHRISTMAS PAGEANT EVER, A HUMAN EQUATION, THE LION IN WINTER, ROW AFTER ROW, BURN THIS, DEATH OF A SALESMAN, UNITED, ROUGH MAGIC, BAREFOOT IN THE PARK, ANGELS IN AMERICA: MILLENNIUM APPROACHES, TICK TICK...BOOM!, A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM, and ALL IN THE TIMING, 42ND STREET, MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING, and THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST. He is a proud member of the Winding Road Theatre Ensemble, where he will next appear in their production of SAINT JOAN in October.
BREE BOYD (Carol) is happy to be making her main stage debut with Live Theatre Workshop's LAUGHTER ON THE 23RD FLOOR Bree earned BA degrees in Speech Communication, Psychology, and Fine Arts in Acting in Louisiana. Now a proud Mommy and local entrepreneur, she continues to follow her passion for acting here in the metro-Tucson area with an exciting career in theatre, radio, film, websites, and television.