Neil Simon's 'Brighton Beach Memoirs' opens 94th season at the Theatre of Western Springs

For its first Mainstage production for the 2022-23 season, the Theatre of Western Springs will be putting on Neil Simon's "Brighton Beach Memoirs" directed by Karen Holbert of Western Springs.

Simon's semi-autobiographical comedy follows Depression-era teenager Eugene Jerome as he pursues his dreams of becoming a successful comedy writer and deals with the conflicts of his squabbling family. It's about baseball, girls, and Eugene's search for identity.

"This funny and heartwarming play is certain to delight TWS audiences," Holbert said. "Its themes are ones we have all experienced to some degree; the importance of family in the best and worst of times, political and economic strife, bigotry, sexism, worry, hope, belonging, independence, and the relationships and love that make us who we are."

"Brighton Beach Memoirs" is the first play in what is known as Simon's Eugene trilogy. It precedes "Biloxi Blues" and "Broadway Bound." The comedy was popular with Broadway audiences and had a long and successful run. It premiered on Broadway at the Alvin Theatre on March 27, 1983 and transferred to the 46th Street Theatre, where it closed on May 11, 1986 after 1,299 performances.

Actor Matthew Broderick who played Eugene, won Best Featured Actor in a Play at the Tony Awards in 1983. The play also won the 1983 Best Play from the New York Drama Critics Circle and Outstanding New Broadway Play form the Outer Critics Circle.

Opening night is Thursday, Sept. 8. Performances are at 8 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays, 2:30 and 8 p.m. Saturdays, and 2:30 p.m. Sundays through Sunday, Sept. 18, at the Theatre of Western Springs, 4384 Hampton Ave.

For more information and tickets, call the TWS box office at (708) 246-3380 or visit the website at

Eugene Jerome, left, played by Cooper Brown of Willow Springs, talks with his older brother Stanley (RJ Cecott of Hickory Hills) on the steps of their brownstone in the coming-of-age comedy "Brighton Beach Memoirs." Courtesy of Tim Sands

Holbert has been an active member of Theatre of Western Springs for more than 20 years. In that time, she has enjoyed many backstage and onstage roles. She has been a member of the faculty of the Children's Theatre of Western Springs for the last 15 years, teaching improvisation and acting classes to students of all ages.

For the Children's Theatre of Western Springs, Holbert directed the annual High School Repertory's improvisation and sketch comedy shows and "Nancy Drew: Girl Detective" and "Little Mermaid, Jr." before the pandemic shut down the production. She codirected the Family Forum production of "Little Red Robin Hood" and assistant directed "Beauty and the Beast, Jr." For the adult theater, she directed "Silent Sky," and she's taught improvisation classes as well as a class that serves as an introduction to Theatre of Western Springs.

“Brighton Beach Memoirs”

When: 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 2:30 and 8 p.m. Saturday, and 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 8-18

Where: Theatre of Western Springs, 4384 Hampton Ave.

Tickets: $25, $12 for children and students; some fees may apply


theatreofwesternsprings.comCast: Cooper Brown of Willow Springs (Eugene); Tammy White of Woodridge (Kate); Rich Kropp of Roselle (Jack); RJ Cecott of Hickory Hills (Stanley); Debbie Sampson of LaGrange (Blanche); Lola Podoiner of LaGrange Park (Nora); Brooke Mummert of La Grange (Laurie); Gio Sprovieri of Hinsdale (Eugene understudy); Sophie Imielski of La Grange (Nora understudy); Aubrey Doty of Downers Grove (Laurie understudy); Janet Venzon of Downers Grove (Blanche cover); and Suzanne Nyhan of Naperville (Kate cover)Crew: Director Karen Holbert of Western Springs; stage manager Angelee Johns of Willowbrook; assistant stage manager Mary Van Nest of Western Springs; Mary Ellen Schutt of Westmont (box office); Jaime Sandoval of Oak Park & Sarah Simmons of Western Springs (costume design); Laura Ciresi Starr of Brookfield (dialect coaching); Eddie Sugarman of Western Springs (dramaturg); Joe Mills of Westchester (hospitality); Mike Janke of Downers Grove (house management); Kurt Lemke of Niles (lighting design); Kerri Mummert of La Grange (hair and makeup); Mark Maclean of Willow Springs (program editor); Laura Leonardo Ownby of Western Springs & Suzanne Nyhan of Naperville (props design); Ginny Richardson of Burr Ridge (publicity); Harry Hultgren of Indian Head Park (set construction); Rob Cramer of LaGrange Park (set design); Cheryle McKay of Oak Brook and Spring Richards of Oswego (set dressing); Mary Kuhn of Naperville (set painting); Bill Hammack of Lisle (sound design); and Imani McDaniel of River Grove (tech director).

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