New York City's Plaza Hotel calls itself "the ultimate luxury lifestyle destination." But Neil Simon saw it as the perfect place to set his 1968 stage classic Plaza Suite, a look at love and marriage from three angles.
Avenue Players Theatre will look at two of those stories for its fall production at the Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art's auditorium on the St. Petersburg College Tarpon Spring campus Wednesday through Dec. 7.
Act II was eliminated because of time constraints, said director Diana Forgione. "We have to be out of the auditorium by 9 p.m.," which coincides with the hours of the college's attached library.
"Act I is the best one; Act III is the funniest," Forgione said.
In Act I, middle-aged couple Karen and Sam Nash have checked into Suite 719 of the Plaza for the night. Karen (Doris Cerio) sees it as a celebration of their 29th wedding anniversary, when they spent the night in that same suite. Sam (Ira Wolf) isn't quite as romantic. He sees it as a way to get out of their house while a new paint job dries.
Karen orders champagne; Sam seems more interested in a pending business deal.
When Sam's secretary, Jean (Lindsay Miller), arrives, Karen realizes that her husband is more interested in the visitor than in her. The marriage has come to a turning point; apparently, Sam wants to re-create his happy marriage with Karen, but not necessarily with Karen. Karen wants to save what is the center of her life: her marriage.
As with many of Simon's plays, the outcome isn't all moonlight and roses.
Act III, on the other hand, is all laughs, even with its serious message about longtime relationships.
In it, Norma and Roy Hubley (Pat Alvarez and Edward A. Gomez) are parents of a reluctant bride, Mimsey (Lindsay Miller).
Mimsey has locked herself in the suite's bathroom and refuses to marry, never mind that dad is paying waiters, musicians, caterers and hall rental as she balks.
After several attempts to talk her out of the bathroom, Dad climbs out on the seventh-story ledge to talk to her face to face through the bathroom window.
In desperation, they call in a reinforcement, Borden the groom (Charles T. Atkinson), for a comedic conclusion.
Avenue Players' future shows at Leepa-Rattner will be a reading in costume, Zebras: The Jefferson Legacy, on Feb. 5, and Clifford Odets' Awake and Sing, April 8-19.