Plaza Suite, originally written by Neil Simon, first premiered in New Haven at Shubert Theater and in Boston at Colonial Theater in 1968 and opened on Broadway at Plymouth Theater on 14 February 1968. The starting leading character roles were played by George C. Scott, Maureen Stapleton, and Bob Balaban. It was directed by Mike Nichols. The leading characters were later replaced by E.G. Marshall, Dan Daily, and Don Porter.
The play was a big hit at the time as its comedy was remarkable, and people really loved it. After the play, Neil Simon, Mike Nichols, and Maureen Stapleton were nominated for Tony awards for their respective roles in Plaza Suite, however, only Mike Nichols won the Tony Award for Best Direction of a Play. In the New York Times, Clive Barnes reviewed the show as it started slowly – in the second act, it picked up some attention and the 3rd act left the audience amazed with laughter and tears in their eyes.
The concept of showing three different roles and stories in one hotel suite, room no 719, was admired by many great writers, producers, and directors at that time. It received so much appreciation that it got profiled in the book “The Season: A Candid Look at Broadway” by William Goldman.
Later in 1971, Simon produced a movie based on his play “plaza suite”. But the film didn’t show up as high as the play did because the idea of one character playing 3 leading roles didn’t work well on screen.
The plot of the play
The whole plot was composed of three different acts, involving different characters, but set in the New York City Plaza hotel, suite 719.
The first act was titled Visitors from Mamaroneck. It was based on the story of the unhappy couple Karen Neck and Sam, who came to their honeymoon suite again, trying to bring back the same love and warmth between them as they had at the time of their marriage. But unfortunately, they ended up in a heated dispute based on doubts that Sam was having an affair with his secretary. At the end of the act, Sam left for his urgent business meeting, leaving behind Karen, thinking about how things had changed adversely between them.
The second act was titled Visitor from Holly Wood, based on the meeting between movie producer Jesse Kiplinger and his old lover Muriel Tate. In the act, Muriel was much aware of Jessi’s flirting and deceiving nature. She knew he had come to her for his own means and so Muriel planned to leave as soon as possible. However, Jessi tried to seduce her during the whole act.
The third act was titled Visitor from Forest Hills, based on the story of Roy and Norma Hubley, a couple who was trying to convince their daughter – Mimsey – to come out of the bathroom. During the act, it was Mimsey’s wedding day and out of nervousness, she locked herself in the suite’s bathroom and completely denied coming out. The parents were continuously trying to get her out of the bathroom while the guests were anxiously waiting for the trio to walk downstairs. After several frantic attempts, the parents get successful in convincing Mimsey to come out of the bathroom and the act ended in a happy marriage.
Plaza suite revival
As the play Plaza Suite received so much appreciation in the past, director John Benjamin Hickey planned its revival in 2020. It was first decided to bring his previews to Hudson theater on March 13th, 2022, and officially start the show on April 13th. Unfortunately, due to the covid-19 pandemic, it didn’t happen as the whole city went on lockdown. But as the restrictions were released, the production announced its preview on 25th February and finally opened the Broadway for audiences to watch on 28th March 2022. Leading character roles were played by Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker.
The whole play was based on the same three-acts format, demonstrating the same stories as the ones that happened in 1968, but this time it received mixed reactions. According to most of the reviews, it did not amaze the audience as it did years ago. Audiences did not find it as humorous as they assumed based on the hype created. They called it more of a sexy show, especially the second act, but it was not very fascinating. The audience found it boring and depressing. Although there are some good reviews, as a whole, it failed to receive the same success and fame as it did back in 1968.