Theater Review: Exceptional ensemble in Broadway Bound

Opening Aug. 2 and running through the 18th at New Court Theatre in Beloit, Wis., Broadway Bound is the third in Neil Simon’s autobiographical trilogy and displays emotional depth and humor. Alex Burkart is Eugene Jerome, and brother Nathan plays Stanley. Returning home after their tour of duty in the U.S. Army, they have taken dull jobs, but dream of writing comedy for the media. Still living at home, the play centers on their family.

Carolyn Cadigan is brilliant as their mother, Kate. Bustling from room to room, constantly being the eternal caretaker, she shows such poignant feelings, we want to reach out and comfort her. Never has she played a role so well. As Ben, her aging, forgetful father, Rod MacDonald is the senior in all our lives. Every detail is absolutely authentic, and his determination to convert our capitalistic society to communism never fails to bring a response from a long-suffering family.

Libby Amato, Blanche, has married well, and in the world of Cadillacs and fur coats, still longs for the closeness of her estranged family. Jack, played by Michael Anthony Chase, is father and husband who faces all the indecisions of a man in his 50s afraid he has missed the important things in life.

Much of Simon’s work involves the trivial, but Broadway Bound focuses on the important issues—life’s work, dreams, memories, devotion, and our frustrations in dealing with aging and loss of love. The cast literally becomes the Jerome family, and we empathize with their joys and sorrows.

As Nathan and Stanley achieve their dream of becoming comedy writers, their move to New York coincides with the breakup of their parents’ marriage. In the final scenes, we see Eugene and Kate sharing memories of her years as a teen-ager and a highlight—dancing with George Raft at the Primrose Ballroom. The music begins, and mother and son recreate that magical moment, dancing the fox trot.

The Burkart brothers leave soon for their senior year at Webster College, and then on to the wider world to pursue their careers in theater. Not many are so well prepared.

New Court’s final play of the season concludes their eighth year as a successful and viable summer theater. We are fortunate to have the opportunity to enjoy the work of complete professionals. Do see Broadway Bound. For tickets, call (608) 363-2755 or go to

from the Aug 15-21, 2007, issue

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