Sarah Jessica Parker, Matthew Broderick Make 'Plaza' Sweet on Broadway

Neil Simon's Plaza Suite, directed by John Benjamin Hickey and starring Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick, is getting a five-star revival at New York's Hudson Theatre. Composed of three one-acts, the play is united by the titular Suite 719 of New York's Plaza Hotel overlooking Central Park and by six great performances by Parker and Broderick.

Simon was really at the top of his game in Plaza Suite, and his gifts for depicting a comic situation filled with funny lines are on full display—with all the amenities—with Broderick and Parker. So too is Simon's gift for structuring a scene for maximum effect. The three acts, "Visitor From Mamaroneck," "Visitor From Hollywood" and "Visitor from Forest Hills," are tight little snapshots of marriages in various states of disarray, and Simon mines them for every possible laugh.

But this is by no means a simple joke-fest. In "Visitor From Mamaroneck," we also see some of the more serious elements and an undercurrent of sadness that Simon would expand on later in such plays as The Gingerbread Lady, Brighton Beach Memoirs and Lost in Yonkers. And "Visitor from Forest Hills" approaches screwball comedy with all its physical humor (Parker skids six feet in heels and jumps about with the agility of an Olympic gymnast). There is something for everyone is these plays.

Hickey's direction is taut and unobtrusive, and he blessedly leaves the setting in original's late 1960s. There is no TV on stage, let alone any cellphones, and many then-current names are dropped, a large chunk of whom will probably be lost on modern audiences, but with no discernible loss. "Visitor from Hollywood" drops some of the boldest-faced names of the era of whom only Frank Sinatra is probably still familiar. But some things don't change: New York is still a city that favors tacky new buildings over beautiful old ones, and people get married, have affairs and suffer the consequences, only the prices are higher now—much higher.

If one goes into the Hudson Theatre expecting a dusty old collection of boulevard comedies, they are in for a real surprise and a real treat. These are truly funny comedies of manners—usually bad manners—that have aged quite well, and Parker and Broderick are in top form, keeping things fresh and moving.

Parker in particular gives a virtuoso comic performance. In each play, she moves easily from landing a subtle comic line to broad physical comedy to some very touching moments. And all the time, she keeps any Carrie Bradshaw mannerisms under wraps. She just has to come back to Broadway more often.

Broderick is at his best in "Visitor From Forest Hills," where he is at his most unrestrained. His history with Simon goes back almost 40 years, beginning with Broadway's Brighton Beach Memoirs, one of Simon's richest plays, and the movie Max Dugan Returns, a fairy tale of love, loss, baseball and Wittgenstein. His career, which at that point had been on the upswing anyway with Torch Song Trilogy, really took off. In recent years, he has come back to Simon, doing the Odd Couple with Nathan Lane. So he seems quite comfortable in Simon's world.

One-act plays, the classic kind—40 minutes or less, not the newly fashionable two- or three-act plays with no intermission—are a virtually extinct on Broadway. Relatively Speaking, in 2011, only ran for a few months. Even Torch Song Trilogy had to lose its songs and Trilogy in its most recent incarnation. And Broadway comedies of any length are pretty scarce, too, but Simon pulled it off successfully several times, in several different suites.

So Plaza Suite returns intact, with everything except for that pesky second intermission that has become so abhorrent to the ADHD-suffering Goldilocks standards of modern audiences. The show is a welcome reminder that the quality of the writing and production can make for a very special evening of theater.

Simon has two more Suites on his résumé, London and Hollywood, and one can only hope Parker and Broderick will be ready willing and available to bring them back to life on Broadway. They are most welcome guests.

Until then, fans of great comedy should go straight to midtown Manhattan and check into Suite 719. A fun time is guaranteed for all.

Plaza Suite is playing at New York's Hudson Theatre, 141 West 44th Street, for tickets and more information go to

Matthew Broderick Sarah Jessica Parker Plaza Suite
Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker's talents in physical comedy are on full display in "Visitor From Forest Hills," above, in the current Broadway revival of Neil Simon's "Plaza Suite," at New York's Hudson Theatre. Joan Marcus