BY GEORGE J. DACRE
With all the action set in the writer’s room at NBC at 30 Rockefeller Plaza, “Laughter On the 23rd Floor” is a great recounting by Simon of the infancy of television and the involvement and the lifestyles of the comedy writers who gathered together weekly to turn out the jokes, spins and skits that went into the writing of a 90-minute comedy show.
The talents involved played off world events, current trends, presidents and politicians and happenings and stuff out of the blue that they thought America’s millions would laugh at as they watched such shows as “Your Show Of Shows” starring Sid Caesar. Simon and such greats as Mel Brooks, Carl Reiner and Woody Allen, among others worked in that room.
Director Joe DeSpirito has assembled an excellent collection of crazies and moves them with skill to keep the pace up and the laughter coming a mile a minute. Joe Miceli as Lucas Brickman is as close as I can see to being Neil Simon and Marty Andreas as Max Prince is the prima donna that feuds with NBC brass over the show and future contracts.
As I note in the headline to this review it gets hilarious with Antrim assembling a consortium of very funny actors who take you through “Laughter’s” story of Prince becoming very paranoid, wanting to fight the NBC suits with everything he and the others had. Andreas does a fantastic feat of portraying Prince appearing in his shirt and underwear.
The play features Arthur Chill as head writer Val Skolsky, Paul Diverio as Ira Stone, George Kuch as Milt Fields, another writer, Tom Lambrix as writer and very Irish Brian Doyle. Kevin Vislocky is featured as Kenny Franks, a writer who tries to placate Prince (Andreas), who takes to punching holes in the office walls in his anger.
Anne Molloy as writer Carol Wayman, Dana Pentimone as curvaceous secretary Helen and the rest of the cast are excellent and keep this comedy moving with their jokes and stories of their lives, so there is never a dull moment.
Saturday night’s audience rolled with the constant jokes and scenes and the production works up to a very intensive climax. Simon’s portrayal of the characters involved is intense with them portraying some very funny and in some cases tormented individuals.
The show makes for very entertaining and intriguing theatre and makes this writer wishes he had been able to sit in that writers room at 30 Rockefeller Plaza. It must have been something else as is Simon’s “Laughter On The 23rd Floor ” I rate it Three Stars out of Four!!! And Andreas’ performance is extraordinary!
“Laughter” runs on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays until June 23. To make reservations, call 845-354-9503 or purchase tickets online at www.antrimplayhouse.com.