In less than a week, Concordia’s theater season will continue, taking the audience on a journey through family struggles and self discovery. Neil Simon’s award winning script “Brighton Beach Memoirs” has some big shoes to fill, but this seven member cast is ready to take on the task.
Set in Brooklyn, New York in 1937 during the Great Depression, “Brighton Beach Memoirs” chronicles the struggles and triumphs of family life through the eyes of 14 year old Eugene Morris. The Morris household, consisting of Eugene’s mother Kate, father Jack, older brother Stanley, widowed aunt Blanche, and cousins Laurie and Nora, all create an equally problematic and relatable family situation.
The play comedically explores the Morris’ family dynamics as they navigate typical family struggles, as well as Eugene’s journey through puberty.
“It is built as a comedy but in reality is a very serious play,” said Director Christian Boy. “It explores ideas of family identity, extended family, and extended relationships. Even though it is set in 1937, these are things that are relevant to Concordia students and all college students.”
The seven member cast began preparation just before the start of winter break, with rehearsals beginning on the first day of the spring semester. With 25 rehearsals under their belts, the cast and crew is ready for showtime.
For many, even under such a tight schedule, the most difficult part was trying to create a realistic New York-Jewish accent.
“The accent was definitely a learning curve,” said Matt Nelson who plays the lead role of Eugene. “I’ve never had an accent in a show before, so rehearsing was not only about creating a character and memorizing lines, but also memorizing how those lines are supposed to sound with the accent.”
Even though the accents were originally a struggle, after many rehearsals, the cast seemed confident in their accents and preparation.
Creating the perfect set was also an integral part to the production. The set is a cut out of a two story house, allowing the audience to see right in. With its realistic interior and exterior, the house becomes almost a character of it’s own, adding dimension and depth to an already easily relatable story.
“It goes almost all the way out to the seats,” said Stage Manager Hannah Zehms. “Which means the actors are very close to the audience, almost making them part of the scene.”
The set is complete with everything from beds, to outdoor lights, to a carefully lain wood panel floor that extends all the way to the front row of seats. With this much attention to detail in just the preparations alone, the show is sure to be one to remember.
The cast and crew has put in a lot of hard work in order to do justice to this classic story.
“It’s been so much fun to see the actors grow throughout the rehearsal process,” Zehms said. With the set built, lines rehearsed, and accents perfected, the Concordia theater is ready to put on a phenomenal show.
“Brighton Beach Memoirs” will open on Tuesday, Feb. 14, at 8 p.m. and run through Saturday, Feb. 18, with a matinee show Sunday, Feb. 19 at 2 p.m.