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The Times They Are A Changin' My Name Is Asher Lev My Son The Waiter, A Jewish Tragedy! Mikveh Brighton Beach Memoirs A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum


Brighton Beach Memoirs

Written By:
Neil Simon

Directed By:
Sheila McCarthy


Umed Amin
Meghan Caine
David Eisner
Kelsey Falconer
Lawrence Libor
Sarah Orenstein
Nicole Underhay

The Greenwin Theatre
Toronto Centre of the Arts
5040 Yonge Street

May 22 – June 10, 2018

Running Time:
2 hours and 45 minutes with a 15 minute intermission

Production Sponsor:

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Supporting Sponsors:

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The Show

Set in the Brighton Beach section of Brooklyn, New York in September 1937 during The Great Depression, this coming-of-age comedy focuses on Eugene Morris Jerome, a Polish-Jewish American teenager who experiences puberty, sexual awakening, and a search for identity as he tries to deal with his family, including his older brother Stanley, his parents Kate and Jack, Kate's sister Blanche, and her two daughters, Nora and Laurie, who come to live there after their father's death.

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Show Times

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Sheila McCarthy
Director Sheila McCarthy


What is it about Brighton Beach Memoirs that attracts you as a director?

Sheila: BBM is one of those plays that keeps on giving. It is so layered and complicated and yet entirely funny and moving. I have never been part of such a dysfunctional family. The Jerome family is flawed and nutty and they are hard, no ruthless with each other. Untangling their story is what intrigued me. Digging into their pasts and figuring out why they say those things to each other and yet keep going, keep living together, keep surviving against the backdrop of that great terrible and looming war. The small stuff is huge. Tracing Eugene's story, our hero of the play is what really made me want to direct this beautiful piece. When I was asked to direct BBM, I jumped at it. I love Neil Simon. I love his characters and his stories. They resonate with us still.

Tell me a little about your talented cast?

Sheila: We spent days and days casting this play. Casting young actors is tricky and finding just the right combination of people even trickier when they are all in the same family. I started with the adults casting the incomparable David Eisner as Jack, the long suffering, world weary father of our household. David was born to play this part. Then I saw the inimitable Sarah Orenstein in HGJTC's recent production of My Name is Asher Lev, and the role of Kate, our mother, was done. Sarah is ageless and also meant to play Eugene’s mother. She breathes 1937 and her depth of emotion and yet dogged practicality is pitch perfect for this play.

Casting Blanche, Kate’s younger sister, was next and I was determined to get Nicole Underhay for this role. Nicole spent seasons as a leading lady at the Shaw Festival and I knew I could not settle for anyone else. Thank goodness she was free. Nicole is wondrous. Audiences fall in love with her. We all have. Watching her rehearse is a lesson in our craft for me. She is goofy and funny and then she breaks our hearts.

We then cast the children from auditions pairing them together, going a bit older but knowing they could play younger. Our Eugene, Lawrence Libor, is fresh from living in Britain and leads the pack. He is strong, funny, wild, inventive and is going to be a huge star. Nora is being played by Kelsey Falconer and she is also entirely open and vulnerable as our star craving 16 year old. [And wouldn’t you know it, Lawrence and Kelsey are actually a couple in real life!]

We cast Meghan Caine after I directed her at Sheridan College. She is a fabulous musical theatre star with huge acting chops and can pull off being 13. Then we cast Umed Amin as older brother Stanley. His swagger masks an enormous heart. Perfect for eighteen year old Stanley. What a cast. 

How well will audiences relate to this piece of theatre?

Sheila: Audiences will recognize themselves and their own families in this play. They will root and love and laugh and cry with the Jerome family. They will understand their problems and adore their failings as their own. The impending doom of the coming  World War 2 will also resonate with each audience member as they remember their own stories during that horrific time or the stories they have been told by their parents and grandparents. They will love the antics and shenanigans of our wonderful Eugene as he spins his tales and talks to the audience as though they are sitting right in his own 1937 bedroom. This is a play for all ages.

What will Neil Simon's legacy be?

Sheila: Neil Simon’s works are often thought of as just plain funny comedies, light and often even farcical. But look and watch closely all throughout Brighton Beach Memoirs. It will move you. You will be surprised by the depth of characters and storylines. Neil Simon will go down in history as  having had a particular voice in American 20th century theatre. He will be performed and studied for a very long time as an example of American family drama at its best. Neil Simon is never simple to either act in, direct, or sometimes even watch. He is not to be underestimated as his understanding of the American family is true and clear. His plays are always complex and, although hysterically funny, forever rooted in real human behaviour. Ordinary people with their extraordinary lives. 

What is your personal connection to this play?


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Press Review

“Hilarious comedy…His finest play…A delightful and enriching experience” - CBS TV

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Photo Gallery


Umed Amin
Meghan Caine
David Eisner
Kelsey Falconer
Lawrence Libor
Sarah Orenstein
Nicole Underhay
Sheila McCarthy
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