When we began planning our 2018-19 season for Arena Dinner Theatre, the Play Reading Committee and I started looking for well-known plays and playwrights to fill out our season. Who better to look to for an evening of pure comedy than Neil Simon, the master himself?
When I read one of his very early hits, The Star Spangled Girl, I did a bit of research and realized Arena had never done the show. In 1966, Simon had four hits running on Broadway simultaneously. Besides The Star Spangled Girl, he had written the book for the musical Sweet Charity. His other long-running productions of earlier hits, The Odd Couple and Barefoot in the Park, were still going strong.
We had done the other shows repeatedly, so why not this one? It did seem a bit dated in its subject matter and humor. That is, until the last election happened!
The story of two radical reporters, Andy and Norman, residing in San Francisco in 1966 who are running an underground magazine out of their apartment when they meet their new neighbor, Sophie, an Olympic swimmer from Hunnicutt, Arkansas, who is engaged to a Marine, sets up an evening of laughs based in two radically opposing viewpoints of life, politics, and what it means to be an American. If we could all work out our political differences in this day and age with as much humor, wit, and good-natured kidding as Simon does in this piece, all while falling in love, the world would be a much happier, saner place. I know you’ll fall in love with Sophie Rauschmeyer just as much as Andy and Norman do.
The cast stars Arena award winners Justin Dirig and Jordan Plohr as Andy and Norman and Rachel Dirig as Sophie. They’ve made my job on this show so easy (and they’re really funny!).
We couldn’t have picked a better show to lead off our 2018-19 season and we can’t wait for you to see it!