The Garry Marshall Theatre is presenting Neil Simon’s venerable autobiographical classic LAUGHTER ON THE 23RD FLOOR, at the beautiful Garry Marshall Theatre in Burbank.
It essays Simon’s days working on YOUR SHOW OF SHOWS where he worked alongside of Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner writing material for Sid Caesar. The story is told through the eyes of Lucas (Jason Grasl), who narrates the piece. First we meet the writing staff, seven nut cases of comedy, all archetypical in individual mirthful mayhem. They write for one Max Prince (Pat Towne), doing 90 minutes a week on THE MAX PRINCE SHOW for NBC.
Crises strike! First, the staff and Max have to deal with NBC suits wanting to cut the show to 60 minutes, thus cutting the budget. Would one staff writer have to be canned? Then they have to deal with network interference. Then of course, there’s Max himself, a bundle of neuroses wrapped around booze and pills. The staff deals with each issue with their individual senses of humor creating a controlled chaos that makes up this show.
The first act is very funny, the humor wrapped around the personalities of the staff.
Among the personas are Ira the hypochondriac (Jeff Campenella), Kenny the logician (Cornelius Jones Jr.), a very pregnant Carol (Lanisa Renee Frederick), and the wisecracking clotheshorse Milt (Tay Mayberry). The plot kicks in after we meet the cadre of scribes and Max (Pat Towne) himself, plus his cute secretary Helen (Jessica Joy). The second act gets a bit serious with the issue of network interference and the rise of the half-hour sit-com replacing the variety format on television.
LAUGHTER ON THE 23RD FLOOR is a definite “go-see”. The actors work well together, creating an ensemble of fun, punching us with Mr. Simon’s great one-liners and set-ups in rapid succession, then getting serious in Act 2. The set, by Alex Calle, is highly utile and the costumes are true to the 1953 period.
For Tix call (818) 955-8101 or visit www.GarryMarshallTheatre.org
John Ross Bowie as Brian
Jeff Campanella as Ira
Lanisa Renee Frederick as Carol
Jason Grasl as Lucas
Cornelius Jones Jr. as Kenny
Jessica Joy as Helen
Tay Mayberry as Milt
Roland Rusinek as Val
Pat Towne as Max
Director: Michael A. Sheppard