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Broadway Bound opens this weekend

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Heartwarming, poignant – and hilarious. Odyssey Theatre Ensemble presents a revival of Neil Simon's semi-autobiographical dramatic comedy, Broadway Bound, directed by Jason Alexander (Seinfeld), who created the role of “Stanley” in the original Broadway production. The 8-week run at the Odyssey Theatre is set to open Aug. 2.

A finalist for the the1987 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and recipient of multiple Tony and Drama Desk Award nominations, Broadway Bound sparkles with the potent combination of Simon’s celebrated comic genius and his deep understanding of family dynamics. As their parents' relationship unravels, two brothers — aspiring comedy writers — convene in the upstairs bedroom of their Brighton Beach home to write and rehearse material. When the brothers use their real-life family situation as inspiration for a radio comedy skit, they quickly learn that complications ensue when life informs art.

“The way I see things, life is both sad and funny," Neil Simon once said in an interview. "I can’t imagine a comical situation that isn’t at the same time also painful. I used to ask myself: What is a humorous situation? Now I ask: What is a sad situation and how can I tell it humorously?”

Ian Alda (Lieutenant of Inishmore at the Mark Taper Forum; Broadway Bound at La Mirada) and Noah James (A Midsummer Night's Dream, directed by Jack Stehlin at the Odyssey) star as brothers Eugene and Stanley Jerome who are determined to break into show business as professional comedy writers. Their forbearing mother, Kate, is played by Gina Hecht (The Prisoner of Second Avenue alongside Alexander at the El Portal; Broadway Bound at La Mirada, recurring roles on Glee, Hung, ER, Seinfeld and more), and dad Jack Jerome is portrayed by Michael Mantell (AfterMath with Annie Potts at both the Odyssey and the Matrix, L.A. premieres of Orange Flower Water, The Monogamist and And Still the Dogs at EST/LA). Socialist Grandpa Ben is Allan Miller (The Sunshine Boys at the Odyssey, Broadway Bound at La Mirada, over 200 films and TV shows including the “bald glasses” spelling bee judge in Bad Words), and newly wealthy Aunt Blanche is Betsy Zajko (The New Electric Ballroom and A Bright New Boise, at Rogue Machine).

Broadway Bound is near and dear to my heart as it was one of my happiest times on Broadway,” says Alexander. “Seeing my friends Gina [Hecht] and Allan [Miller] perform it at La Mirada last year brought back many memories of my journey with the creation of the play, which I shared with them. After that discussion, they were inspired to re-explore it with me at the helm, and the Odyssey has miraculously and generously stepped up to produce that effort.”

The final play in an acclaimed semi-autobiographical trilogy that includes Brighton Beach Memoirs and Biloxi Blues, Broadway Bound opened on Broadway at the Broadhurst Theatre in December, 1986, directed by Gene Saks and starring, along with Alexander, Linda Lavin, Jonathan Silverman, Phyllis Newman and John Randolph. The production ran for nearly two years, making the cover of Time magazine, which proclaimed it “Neil Simon’s Best Play.”

Set design for the Odyssey production of Broadway Bound is by Bruce Goodrich; lighting design is by Leigh Allen; sound design is by Martin Carrillo; costume design is by Kate Bergh; prop design is by Katherine S. Hunt; production consultant is John Iacovelli; choreographer is Lee Martino; assistant directors are Amandla Jahava and Donna Hosseinzadeh; and production stage manager is Jennifer Palumbo. Ron Sossi produces in association with Larry Field.

Best known for his role as George Costanza on the long-running TV series Seinfeld, Jason Alexander has worked for over four decades as an actor, director, producer, author, composer/lyricist and teacher in stage, screen and television. He is currently touring the country, singing with various symphony orchestras as well as performing his acclaimed standup comedy show, An Evening with Jason Alexander and His Hair. He is also an award-winning children’s book author and magician.

Neil Simon is the author of dozens of plays and films, and his plays are amongst the most-produced in the world. Some of his plays include Come Blow Your Horn; Little Me; Barefoot in the Park; The Odd Couple; Sweet Charity; The Star-Spangled Girl; Plaza Suite; Promises, Promises; Last of the Red Hot Lovers; The Gingerbread Lady; The Prisoner of Second Avenue; The Sunshine Boys; The Good Doctor; God’s Favorite; California Suite; Chapter Two; They’re Playing our Song; I Ought to Be in Pictures; Fools; the female version of The Odd Couple; Rumors; Jake’s Women; The Goodbye Girl; Laughter on the 23rd Floor; Proposals; The Dinner Party and 45 Seconds from Broadway and London Suite. With his autobiographical trilogy – Brighton Beach Memoirs (1983), Biloxi Blues (1985) and Broadway Bound (1986) – Simon found his greatest critical acclaim, and for his 1991 follow-up, Lost in Yonkers, Simon was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in Drama.

Performances of Broadway Bound take place on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m., Aug. 2 through Sept. 21, except Sunday, Aug. 3 which will be at 5 p.m. with no 2 p.m. matinee. Additional weeknight performances are scheduled on Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on Aug. 20 and Sept.10; and on Thursdays at 8 p.m. on Aug. 14, Sept. 4 and Sept. 18. All tickets are $30. There will be two pay-what-you-can (minimum $10) performances on Thursday, Aug. 14 and Wednesday, Sept.10. The third Friday of every month is wine night at the Odyssey: enjoy complimentary wine and snacks and mingle with the cast after the show. The Odyssey Theatre is located at 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., West Los Angeles, 90025. For reservations and information, call (310) 477-2055 or go to www.OdysseyTheatre.com.

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