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UW-RF Presents Neil Simon Comedy

By Molly Exner
UW-RF News Bureau

FEB. 18, 2005--The UW-River Falls University Theatre performs Neil Simon's smash comedy, "Laughter on the 23rd Floor," at 7:30 p.m., March 3-5 and 10-12 in the Blanche Davis Theatre of the Kleinpell Fine Arts Center on the UW-RF campus.

Simon’s "Laughter on the 23rd Floor" marks a "comeback" of sorts on campus of the legendary playwright's work. According to the show’s director and UW-RF theatre Professor Jim Zimmerman, it’s been more than 20 years since the UW-RF University Theatre has staged a Neil Simon comedy.

"While the St. Croix Valley Summer Theatre has produced a number of Simon hits, we (the University Theatre) have never considered it," said Zimmerman. "So I guess it’s about time."

This Broadway hit pays homage to the Pulitzer Prize-winner’s early days in show biz when Simon worked as a writer for Sid Ceasar’s live television sketch comedy, "Your Show of Shows."

The comedy encapsulates the troubles of a group of young comedy writers during the turbulent McCarthy era, who are trying to pull together an hour-and-a-half comedy show in the golden age of television.

The play is a memoir told by Simon’s alter ego, Lucas, a novice writer who is thrust into the crazy and neurotic world of the wackiest bunch of comedy writers ever, who in Simon's real life included Mel Brooks, Woody Allen, Carl Reiner and others.

The writers try to top each other with gags while competing for the attention of television funnyman Max Prince, a character based on Sid Caesar.

Max, the head madman, contends with the NBC brass who fear his humor is too sophisticated for "middle America." As Lucas tries to get his bearings among this passionate crew, Max fights to keep his show on the air.

Spanning a period of two years, the writers, dampened by a tightening budget and constrictive political environment, survive several neurotic breakdowns and manage to cling together as a "second" family.

"Laughter" is Simon's take on his real-life counterparts during one of the most creative and eruptive times in the entertainment industry. The touching play is a modern classic.

Join the fun and take a peek into the politics and pranks of the early days of television, when all performances were live and the true stories were behind the cameras. Ticket prices are $4 for students and $7 for nonstudents.

For information or to make reservations call the University Theatre box office at 715/425-3114 or 800/228-5423.

The cast includes students from:
Wisconsin:

Brad Jennings: Chetek, Wis./English major
Nate Messina-Anderson: Madison, Wis./speech communications major
Ed Falkner: Appleton, Wis./theater major
Dustin Yeager: River Falls, Wis./theater major
Kortney Simpson: Hudson, Wis./theater major
Joe Burger: Menomonie, Wis./theater arts
Minnesota:
Stephanie Briggs: Cottage Grove, Minn./speech communication major
Mike McKay: Hibbing, Minn./theater major
Jordan Cassavant: Mahtomedi, Minn./psychology major

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Last updated: Tuesday, 22-Jun-2010 16:21:20 Central Daylight Time

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