All Articles
June 26, 2024

Neil Simon’s ‘Suite’ Plays Blend Humor with Nostalgia

2020 Emerson Colonial Theatre Production of Plaza Suite (Joan Marcus)

Summer is here, and what better way to get into vacation mode than with an iconic “Suite” play by the award-winning playwright Neil Simon? Born on the Fourth of July, the comic writer crafted a series of hilarious “Suite” plays over the course of his 60+ year career. Each of these three plays is set in a hotel suite, where laughter erupts, chaos ensues and hearts are made warm. Learn about the joys of each of the legendary comedies below.


Plaza Suite (US/UK)

In Plaza Suite, hilarity abounds as audiences get to know three couples who are successively occupying a suite at New York City’s Plaza Hotel. In a fun conceit, the two lead performers play all three sets of couples. Plaza Suite premiered in 1968 at Broadway’s Plymouth Theatre. This, the first of the three plays in Simon’s series, was directed by Mike Nichols, who won that year’s Tony Award for Best Direction of a Play (his third win for a Neil Simon play). The play’s continued success included a 1971 film adaptation. The original cast included George C. Scott and Maureen Stapleton as the trio of couples, with Bob Balaban, Jose Ocasio and Claudette Nevins.

Act 1: “Visitor from Mamaroneck”
(2w, 3m)
Sam and Karen Nash are at the Plaza for a second honeymoon in hopes of reinvigorating their marriage.

Act 2: “Visitor from Hollywood”
(1w, 2m)
Jesse Kiplinger and Muriel Tate have a romantic history. While Muriel has made this trip for an innocent meeting of old friends, Jesse, who is a movie producer, has other ideas.

Act 3: “Visitor from Forest Hills”
(2w, 2m)
It’s Mimsey Hubley’s wedding day and she and her parents, Roy and Norma, are plunged into a bout of wedding day nerves. While wedding preparations are underway, Mimsey locks herself in the bathroom, and her distraught parents desperately try to convince her to come out and make her way down the aisle.

California Suite (US/UK)

Another set of tales following characters whose relationship issues are cloaked in comedy, Simon’s California Suite introduces four couples from four different cities. Set in the same suite of the Beverly Hills Hotel, this comedy mirrors Plaza Suite in structure, but with more actors playing the couples in the central stories. California Suite premiered in 1976 at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles, in a production directed by Gene Saks. The original cast was led by Tammy Grimes, George Grizzard, Jack Weston, Leslie Easterbrook and Barbara Barrie.

Act 1: “Visitor from New York”
(1w, 1m)
When Jenny, the daughter of a divorced couple, decides to take off to live with her father William, her Manhattan mom Hannah flies to Los Angeles to bring her daughter back. In the end, it’s Hannah and William who must decide what is best for their daughter.

Act 2: “Visitor from Philadelphia”
(2w, 1m)
Marvin Michaels, on a business trip from Philadelphia, is awakened in his hotel room to find Bunny, a prostitute, in bed with him. As Marvin’s wife Millie is set to arrive, the antics of what to do unravels.

Act 3: “Visitors from London”
(1w, 1m)
Diana Nichols finally gets her big break as an actress…not-so-perfect timing, though, as her husband Sidney decides to come out of the closet.

Act 4: “Visitors from Chicago”
(2w, 2m)
Two couples who are the best of friends, Stu and Gert Franklyn and Mort and Beth Hollender, are taking a vacation together when the trip turns ugly as accusations fly after Beth is injured on the tennis court.

London Suite (US/UK)

Following the style of Plaza Suite and California Suite, London Suite takes place in a single hotel room in a London hotel overlooking Hyde Park. Yet another riotous comedy, this one follows a cast of characters as they navigate connections and intimacies. London Suite, however, has a thread of dark comedy interwoven through it. London Suite premiered in 1994 at the Seattle Repertory Theatre. Daniel Sullivan directed the original production, featuring Jeffrey Jones, Carole Shelley, Amy Ryan, Paxton Whitehead, Barbara Dirickson, Sean G. Griffin and Rex McDowell.

Act 1, Scene 1: “Settling Accounts”
Billy Fox is the literary manager of author Brian Cronin, who has had a successful career. Brian soon discovers that Billy has absconded with his money.

Act 1, Scenes 2 and 3: “Going Home”
Sharon Semple is convinced by her daughter Lauren to have dinner with a stranger they meet by chance. Sharon goes to dinner with him and the story unfolds.

Act 2, Scene 1: “Diana and Sidney”
(2w, 1m)
This scene takes on a serious tone as divorced couple Diana and Sidney are introduced. We soon learn that Sidney’s current partner, who is gay, is dying from cancer. Sidney asks Diana for financial help.

Act 2, Scene 2: “The Man on the Floor”
(2w, 3m)
Visiting London to attend a tennis match, Mark Ferris hurts his back and is lying on the floor, unable to get up. In the meantime, his wife, Anne, has misplaced the tickets to the tennis tournament.

For more great Neil Simon plays, explore the Neil Simon Collection at Concord Theatricals in the US or UK.