by Terry Rogers
For the past several months, Second Street Players Riverfront Theater has been closed for renovations, requiring the organization to hold rehearsals and play productions in other locations in Milford. On Friday, May 10, the first production in the newly renovated theater, Brighton Beach Memoirs” opened, revealing the more than $300,000 in upgrades.
“We reinforced the foundation and piers under the building,” Tracy Dissinger of Second Street Players said. “We gutted and completely replaced the technical booth, lobby and bathrooms. All the flooring, fixtures, walls and ceilings have been renovated and it is really quite remarkable. We have spent many, many volunteer hours putting it all together but it is totally worth it and it is something that must be seen to be believed.” The renovations also required the removal of 58 seats in the theater but Dissinger said the play company felt it necessary to improve audience experience.
Brighton Beach Memoirs, in addition to it presentations May 10-12, will also be performed on Friday, May 17 and Saturday, May 18 at 7 PM as well as on Sunday, May 19 at 2 PM. The play, written by Neil Simon, is semi-autobiographical and is the first in what has been named the Eugene trilogy, preceding Biloxi Blues and Broadway Bound.
The play is set in the Brighton Beach area of Brooklyn during the Great Depression. It is a comedy which focuses on Eugene Morris Jerome who is searching for his identity while dealing with his family. The Second Street Players production is directed by Mark Dissinger and Eugene is played by Brodie Sapp. The role of Eugene’s mother is played by Dana Willens, his father by Tony Pierantozzi and his older brother, Stanley by Colby Crawford. The ensemble is rounded out by Carol Torrey who plays Aunt Blanche, Alexia Nadel and Sydney Gross who play Blanche’s daughters.
The play premiered on Broadway at the Alvin Theater on March 27, 1983 and transferred to the 46th Street Theater where it was performed almost 1,300 times. In 1986, a film adaptation of the movie starred Jonathan Silverman and Blythe Danner. Throughout the play, Eugene acts as a narrator, speaking directly to the audience.
“We are very proud of how the theater turned out and we would love for everyone to come out, see the play and see our new and improved theater,” Dissinger said. “It will be an incredible experience for everyone.”
Tickets for the next performance of the play are available at www.secondstreetplayers.com at $17 each. There is a $1 discount for seniors and students for the Sunday matinee show.