Friday, July 28, 2017

Neil Appeal

Earlier this month, Neil Simon turned 90.  Since it happened on July 4th, you can understand why I was busy with other things at the time.

I don't know what he's been doing lately.  He stopped writing (as far as I can tell) a bit over ten years ago.  He certainly doesn't need the money.

I've posted about Simon before.  He's got my vote for best comedy writer in the second half of the 20th century. (Who could compare?  Woody Allen?)

He's probably the most commercially successful Broadway playwright ever.  From the early 1960s to the early 1990s, he had a new show produced almost every year (if you include musicals), and about two out of three were hits.

No one has a batting average like that over so long a period.  And at the same time he was wrote 20+ movies, some originals, some based on his plays, and many quite successful.

But then it seemed to slip away.  He still got plays produced, but they didn't run as long.  His last big hit, Lost In Yonkers--which won him the Pulitzer--opened in 1991.  After that, he wrote eight original works, and none of them came close to 500 performances.

Perhaps even worse, Broadway revivals of his blockbusters--such as Barefoot In The Park and Brighton Beach Memoirs--flopped.  He had lived long enough to see himself no longer in vogue.

I wonder if he wonders about posterity.  Or does he just figure he had a good run, it couldn't last forever.  No one can see into the future, but I like to think--even as some of his references and even his style gets  a bit dated--that his material is so well done that his plays will be revived, and make audiences laugh, well into the next century.

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