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This article is about the play. For its film adaptation, see California Suite.


California Suite is a 1976 play by Neil Simon. Similar in structure to his earlier Plaza Suite, the comedy is composed of four playlets set in Suite 203-04, which consists of a living room and an adjoining bedroom with an ensuite bath, in The Beverly Hills Hotelmarker.

Plot

In Visitor from New York, Hannah Warren is a Manhattanmarker workaholic who flies to Los Angelesmarker to retrieve her teenaged daughter Jenny after she leaves home to live with her successful screenwriter father William. The bickering divorced couple is forced to decide what living arrangements are best for the girl.

Conservative middle-aged businessman Marvin Michaels is the Visitor from Philadelphia, who awakens to discover a prostitute named Bunny unconscious in his bed after consuming a bottle of vodka. With his wife Millie on her way up to the suite, he must find a way to conceal all traces of his uncharacteristic indiscretion.

The Visitors from London are British actress Diana Nichols, a first-time nominee for the Academy Award for Best Actress, and her husband Sidney, a once-closeted antique dealer who increasingly has become indiscreet about his sexual preference. The Oscar is an honor that could jumpstart her faltering career, although Diana knows she doesn't have a chance of winning. She is in deep denial about the true nature of her marriage of convenience, and as she prepares for her moment in the spotlight, her mood fluctuates from hope to panic to despair.

The Visitors from Chicago are two affluent couples who are best friends. Stu Franklyn and his wife Gert and Mort Hollender and his wife Beth are taking a much-needed vacation together. Things begin to unravel quickly when Beth is hurt during a mixed doubles tennis match and Mort accuses Stu of having caused her injury by lobbing the ball.

Productions

The play originally was produced by the Center Theatre Groupmarker. Directed by Gene Saks, it opened on April 23, 1976 at the Ahmanson Theatremarker, where it ran until June 5. Tammy Grimes portrayed Hannah, Diana, and Gert; George Grizzard portrayed William, Sidney, and Stu; Barbara Barrie portrayed Millie and Beth; and Jack Weston portrayed Marvin and Mort.

Following four previews, the Broadwaymarker production, with the same cast (and Leslie Easterbrook as Bunny) directed by Saks, opened on June 30, 1976 at the Eugene O'Neill Theatremarker, where it ran for 445 performances. Later in the run, Rue McClanahan replaced Grimes, Kenneth Haigh and then David McCallum replaced Grizzard, Marge Redmond replaced Barrie, and Vincent Gardenia replaced Weston.

Critical reception

In his review in the New York Times, Clive Barnes said, "For those of us who imagine Los Angeles as nothing but a long street in desperate search of a parking lot, Neil Simon's California Suite which opened most joyously and triumphantly at the Eugene O'Neill Theater last night, will come as a vast relief." Less enthusiastic was the critic for New York, who observed, "Sleazily written, shoddily constructed, and without a scintilla of Neil Simon's usual slick adroitness with a gag line, this grab bag of skits . . . suggests that California life may have scrambled Mr. Simon's brains."

Film adaptation

Simon adapted his play for a 1978 feature film directed by Herbert Ross. The cast includes Alan Alda, Jane Fonda, Walter Matthau, Bill Cosby, Richard Pryor, Elaine May, Maggie Smith, and Michael Caine.

References

  1. Ahmanson Theatre production archives
  2. New York Times review
  3. New York review


External links




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