Neil Simon passed away yesterday, August 26th, 2018.
I didn’t know Simon personally, however he had such an impact on my life and career that you would have thought we were fast friends. Many actors can say that of the playwright because he was, for most of us, the creator of a broad swath of work that allowed us to grace a stage and convey lines that made audiences laugh, cry, laugh so much they cried… and so on. I mean you couldn’t even say some of these lines without dying of laughter.
“There’s no such word as feck. A person cannot go feck themselves. You cannot be an American citizen until you learn to say ‘Go fuck yourself.'”
The first show I produced on my own was The Odd Couple (circa 1999). It’s the show that launched a nearly 20-year friendship with my “best man” in life Tony Cox. It’s the show that gave me a taste of investing and coordinating the staging of a full-fledged theatrical endeavor. While it could have been any of the millions of scripts out there, I got to launch my passion with one of Simon’s most famous works. Over the years I’ve had the pleasure of being in several of his productions including Barefoot in the Park, Rumors, and London Suite to name a few – all of these have given me memories and friendships that have lasted years.
He was always my favorite to perform in because his words were so real. He made it easy to be authentic and hysterical all at the same time. He was a master of our language but also our humanity.
Even though it’s been many years since I last acted in a Simon play, I’m thankful for the amazing stories he created for us, and the opportunity to make audiences laugh with his words.
Goodnight Mr. Simon. And thank you – sincerely – for all the laughs.