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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Biloxi Blues the middle child of Neil Simon

    Eugene, played by J. Michael Trautmann (right) is yelled at by Sgt. Toomey, played by Stephen Elton in a scene of the play Biloxi Blues. The play won the 1985 Tony Award for best play.
    Eugene, played by J. Michael Trautmann (right) is yelled at by Sgt. Toomey, played by Stephen Elton in a scene of the play “”Biloxi Blues.”” The play won the 1985 Tony Award for best play.

    The Arizona Repertory Theatre is sticking with a comedic classic this summer. And in this case, that classic deals with a fish out of water type story of a young New Yorker living in the deep South.

    “”Biloxi Blues”” is a comedy that won the 1985 Tony Award for best play and is the second of Neil Simon’s autobiographical trilogy, which shares Eugene Jerome’s story as he goes off to boot camp in Biloxi, Mississippi.

    The trilogy of “”Brighton Beach Memoirs,”” “”Biloxi Blues”” and “”Broadway Bound”” is Eugene’s coming of age story. The character of Eugene is based off Simon himself, in his dealings with his Jewish family and experiences with sex and love. The play shares Eugene’s incidents with an odd bunch of recruits while in Biloxi. As an aspiring writer, he takes his notebook everywhere to capture all of his experiences.

    The UA will complete production of the entire trilogy, having already performed “”Brighton Beach Memoirs”” and set to perform “”Broadway Bound”” later in the year.

    “”The trilogy is the main selling point to it. They’re just really fine scripts,”” said director Brent Gibbs, theatre arts associate professor and Arizona Repertory Theatre director. “”Neil Simon is one of America’s pre-eminent writers. There’s a reason that he gets produced all the time. This is one of his best works.””

    Gibbs didn’t want to seriously alter the classic in any way for this production.

    “”The play is straightforward. I didn’t want to mess with something that is really successful. What is different about ours is the set, something the university does very well. There’s a lot of automation in the set. It mixes the old school story with the new school set,”” Gibbs said.

    Another unique aspect to the trilogy on the college stage is that the same actors get to perform in all three segments.

    “”We have the same people playing the characters throughout the trilogy, something that regional theatres can’t do,”” Gibbs said.

    Neil Simon is one of America’s pre-eminent writers. There’s a reason that he gets produced all the time.

    Brent Gibbs, theatre arts professor

    “”Biloxi Blues”” previews June 11 at 1:30 p.m. and June 12 at 7:30 p.m. Evening performances are June 14 through 17 and June 22 through 24 at 7:30 p.m., and matinees are June 18, 24, 25 at 1:30 p.m. All performances are at the Marroney Theatre on the southeast corner of North Park Avenue and East Speedway Boulevard. General admission tickets are $26, senior citizen and UA employee tickets are $24, student tickets are $19 and preview tickets are $17.

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