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Gold Coast review - 45 Seconds from Broadway: fast and furious

By Douglas Kennedy

45 Seconds from Broadway

by Neil Simon

Directed by Tony Campbell

Gold Coast Little Theatre.

Season ends December 9. Booking Phone 07 55322096

American playwright Neil Simon’s 45 Seconds from Broadway has been described as the master’s valentine to the Great White Way.

That’s appropriate as Simon must rank as one of the great comic writers of the 20th century with more than 30 plays and as many movie screenplays to his credit.

His early hits in the 1960s included his first play Come Blow Your Horn, Barefoot in the Park, and The Odd Couple and in 1983 he became the only living playwright to have a New York theatre named in his honour, The Neil Simon Theatre in Midtown Manhattan.

45 Seconds from Broadway was his 33rd play, which premiered at the Richard Rodgers Theatre in 2001.

Now the Gold Coast Little Theatre is giving it a run as the final main house production in its 2023 season.

Simon’s play is set in the Polish Tea-Room on New York’s 47th Street where a fairly large cast play out their hopes and dreams in a series of vignettes. There is a dozen of these odd ball characters each with their own individual voice, creating images of comedy and pathos.

The title refers to the time it takes to walk between the tea-room and Broadway itself and echoes legendary performer George M. Cohen’s 1906 play Forty-five Minutes from Broadway.

This play has all sorts of references to the good and great of Broadway, as the tea-room itself was inspired by a coffee shop in Midtown Manhattan, known for its clientele of theatrical types, casual atmosphere, inexpensive prices, and a concoction called matzah soup.

Leading the cast is seemingly successful Micky Fox (Steven Tandy) who has a distinctive accent and a razor sharp delivery of puns and one-liners.

Tandy, who returns to the Coast after 18 years, was a leading light in the company back in the 1990s as a director and actor, and was also the president from 2000 to 2003. However, the wider Australian audience might know him better as the middle son Tom in the long-running war time family drama The Sullivans in the 1970s and ‘80s. He also was Commandant Lassard in the popular Warners Bros. Movie World Police Academy Stunt Show for several years.

Tandy gives a stylish performance as the New York funny man, but there’s a host of other eye-catching performances.

They include the tea-room’s owners, the generous Bernie (Grant Ebeling) and his tireless wife Zelda (Gai Byrne).

Then there’s a South African playwright Salomon (Matthew McKenzie), who’s looking for that big break, would-be actress Megan (Chloe Smith) and British promoter Andrew (Ricky Moss), chasing Micky for a show.

There’s some physical humour as well from Sera Bailey as an upmarket society dame who wants a double-brewed cup of tea served in white china on fine linen and her silent patient partner played by James M Hogan.

Three other eccentric female characters are played by Rowena Orcullo Ryan, Tabitha Woods, and Corinne Le Claire.

The first act is fast and furious, but there’s a moving scene in the second act when Micky’s brother, Harry, (Leigh Harrison) turns up and begs his young brother to help his would be comic son achieve his on-stage comic goals.

Director Tony Campbell holds this largely ensemble cast together well and once again the design team and technical crew have done justice to the Gold Coast Little Theatre.

Campbell has had his theatrical highlights working alongside the late Bille Brown as King Arthur in the original cast production of Monty Python’s Spamalot.

He has also had success directing musicals including a sell-out season of Chicago: A Musical Vaudeville, Jekyll & Hyde: The Musical, Legally Blonde and Mary Poppins.


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