CAST OF BILOXI BLUES AT IVORYTON PLAYHOSUE
Eugene Morris Jerome is now a man. You might remember him as a precocious teenager dealing with growing up in Brooklyn in Neil Simon’s “Brighton Beach Memoirs.” Eugene is the central character created by Simon, semi-autobigraphically, in a trilogy. Now is the time for a second installment and, thanks to the Ivoryton Playhouse, you can come meet Eugene from now until Sunday, May 14 as “Biloxi Blues” salutes soldiers.
It’s World War Ii and our Brooklyn boy is now twenty years old and is leaving home and heading to Biloxi, Mississippi to join the United States Army. Private first class Jerome is now an active observer, an eager participant in boot camp and a narrator writing about the trials and triumphs of serving patriotically for his country.
Come meet Zal Owen as the lovable Eugene and his best new pals Alec Silberblatt as Arnold, Conor M. Hamill as Wykowski, Ethan Kirschbaum as Carney, George Mayer as Hennesey and Chandler Smith as Selridge. Overseeing their every move and moment is the hard boiled Mike Mihm as their commander, the dictator Sergeant Toomey. As young recruits, they exhibit all the ABCs,anxiety,bravado and courage that you would expect to witness. They tease, swear and act tough as they prepare for their new assignment: going to war. With sly wit and a deep sense of humanity, Simon inducts his soldiers with all the brashness of heading off into the unknown and the fears that entails.
These men, thrown together as they are, have to grow up quickly. It’s Sergeant Toomey’s job and obligation to toughen them up and supply all the discipline and obedience they will need to endure combat. Mike Mihm as Toomey is up for the challenge. Push-ups by the hundreds and long enforced marches through the swamps, peeling potatoes and scrubbing latrines are all part of the patriotic package they must face. Readiness for battle is a prerogative and instant responsibility is essential.
As the recruits tease, ridicule and support each other, Eugene records his memoirs for posterity, with pithy comments on the goings on and day-to-day challenges. A 48 hour pass allows Eugene to explore two of his list of goals, to lose his virginity and to fall in love, both with the help of Moira O’Sullivan and Andee Buccheri. He also plans to become a writer and not to die in the war. Sasha Bratt as director puts these men through their paces in a heartwarming and poignant way.
For tickets ($50, seniors $45, students $22, children $17), call the Ivoryton Playhouse, 103 Main Street, Ivoryton at 860-767-7318 or online at www.ivorytonplayhouse.org. Performances are Wednesday and Sunday at 2 p.m., Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m. and Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m.
Pack your duffel bag and get ready to do some push-ups as a maniacal drill instructor puts you through your paces or will die trying.