BRENHAM — The first play in Neil Simon’s autobiographical “Eugene” trilogy opens a three-week run Thursday night at Unity Theatre in downtown Brenham.
Brighton Beach Memoirs is Simon’s 1982 comedy about Eugene Morris Jerome, a Polish-Jewish American teenager dealing with his sexual awakening in 1937. Brighton Beach, where the family lives, is located in south Brooklyn and is home to many Russian-speaking residents.
His widowed Aunt Blanche and her two daughters move in with Eugene’s family, including his parents and his older brother Stanley. The overcrowded living situation takes its toll on Eugene’s father, who must work two jobs to take care of everyone.
The Unity website says, “Dreaming of baseball and girls, Eugene must cope with the mundane existence of his family life in Brooklyn: formidable mother, overworked father, and his worldly older brother Stanley. Throw into the mix his widowed Aunt Blanche, her two young (but rapidly maturing!) daughters and you have a recipe for hilarity.”
With the following two “Eugene” plays — Biloxi Blues and Broadway Bound — Brighton Beach Memoirs is the thinly veiled story of Simon’s youth and young adulthood.
Performances at Unity Theatre are Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 4 p.m. through June 30. Tickets are $27 each, except for Thursday’s opening night, when they are $19. Student tickets are $15. They are available at the box office in the theater lobby at 300 Church St. in Brenham. Box office hours are 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekdays and 90 minutes prior to each performance. For Thursday’s opening night, all tickets are $17. Tickets also may be purchased with a credit card by calling 979-830-8358.
Any seats unsold 15 minutes before each performance are available at the ticket window for $15 on a first-come basis.
In the Unity production, Tyler Holmes plays Eugene, Jamie Ward is mother Kate, Wynter Woody is father Jack, Tommy Stuart is Stanley, Julie Fontenot is Aunt Blanche, Alyssa Marek is cousin Nora, and Hanna Prince is cousin Laurie.
George Brock directs Brighton Beach Memoirs. Emily Curley handles sound design, while David Gipson is in charge of lighting design and Kristina Hanssen is in charge of costume design. Alan Will is production manger and also is in charge of set design.