Brighton Beach Memoirs is the autobiographical story of Neil Simon growing up in Yonkers New York in 1937. The family faces several hardships that make it ever more difficult to make ends meet. The backdrop of the depression era is the perfect contrast to Simon's biting wit. Eugene Morris Jerome, a 15-year-old boy, navigates adolescence as well as his family's plethora of problems in this two-act comedy.
The personal and economic problems of this depression era family were very common for first generation immigrants. The adolescent sexuality that is expressed throughout the play may make some people uncomfortable, but it reflects an experience that many people can relate to. Eugene struggles to find his way through the prickly patch of adolescence.
Brighton Beach Memoirs is an exciting choice for Jay Johnson, North High teacher, as this year's North High Spring production because of its character development, strong relationships and the age appropriateness of many of the play's characters. When Johnson was asked what he considers before he chooses which play to direct, Johnson stated, "I always try to consider the needs of the young actors first and ask myself a series of questions. What challenges will the play provide for the actors and crew? What experiences have actors had in the past and how will this compliment their artistic growth? Do I find the play entertaining?"
This production is part of Johnson's twentieth year directing the North High Drama program and the first time he has repeated a play. Brighton Beach Memoirs was last produced at North in 1992. This cast stars Houa Vang as Eugene. Other cast members are Rebecca Pierce, Katie Phillips, Aristotle Leonhard, Kyle Whelton, Calla Born and Ariana DeVriend. Set design by Pat Henderson. Costume design by Deb Ericson and Carolyn Pierce.
The play opens March 5 and runs through March 7 in the North High Auditorium. The curtain opens at 7:00 p.m. on the 5th and 6th and 2:00 p.m. on the 7th. Tickets are available at the door. The play may not be appropriate for all ages.