Sunday, August 26, 2018

Remembering Neil Simon

Earlier this summer, as we waited to get in to Angels in America, Mike and I got to talking about Neil Simon, and his impact on American Theatre. His impact on comedy will be felt for generations. His impact is also personal. Many of my theater "firsts" involve Mr. Simon: one of the first shows I ever worked on in high school was Sweet Charity, the first straight play I ever saw on Broadway was his Broadway Bound, the first play I ever directed was Rumors. The last show I got to take my late grandmother to was The Goodbye Girl. To say I admired him and his work is a massive understatement.

I'll never forget the brief moment I actually got to see him in person. The pre-Broadway production of Lost in Yonkers was playing at the National Theatre in Washington, D.C. in early 1991. It was freezing cold and breezy. We were waiting for my granddad to pick us up. Two men strolled by us, talking loudly; one referred to the other as "Doc," and my ears perked up. I turned, and there he stood, a big smile on his face. You know what struck me? He was a tall thin man. For some reason I never thought Neil Simon was tall. Funny. I think he'd have been tickled at my observation and expectation. At least I hope so.

This is a loss that hurts. Rest in peace, and thank you, Mr. Simon.

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