Lead Of Closed Broadway Revival On Experience

Brighton Beach Memoirs opened on Broadway to generally positive reviews on Oct. 25. A week later, the revival of Neil Simon's hit closed due to poor ticket sales. Lead actor Noah Robbins says the cast was told about the closure half an hour before a performance.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

Last week on Broadway, a revival of Neil Simons 1983 hit, Brighton Beach Memoirs opened to pretty good reviews. The cable news station, New York One, said, just as it was a huge hit back then, it deserves to be once again. Variety called it an exquisite balance between comedy and pathos. Ben Brantley of the New York Times called the production only partly successful, but he was completely taken with the young men who play the Jerome Brothers - Stanley and Eugene Morris Jerome. Brantley wrote this: They arent reciting polished zingers from a Broadway master. Its as if theyre inventing what they say on the spot. Theyre so totally tuned into each other that we feel like delighted eavesdroppers.

Well, evidently there werent enough eavesdroppers buying tickets to be delighted. On Sunday, the show closed. We figure that Mr. Simon and Director David Cromer can chalk it up to experience. But what if this is your first Broadway role? Joining us from New York is 19-year-old Noah Robbins who played Eugene Morris Jerome, aka Neil Simons alter ego. First, how did you hear the news that the show would close?

Mr. NOAH ROBBINS (Actor): Well, I heard it in a very, very strange way. Actually, the whole cast was told half an hour before we had to do a performance. I just got through it and then I - once the performance finished, it was as though I had just heard it all over again. And it was just, oh my God. It was a huge dawning on me once the performance was over.

SIEGEL: After such nice reviews of your acting

Mr. ROBBINS: Yes.

SIEGEL: it must be very disappointing.

Mr. ROBBINS: It is. It is very disappointing. But compared to a lot of people involved, I think I got off pretty easy because I got to perform and I got to have reviews. And then there were some actors, who are just in Broadway Bound, who didnt get to perform at all.

SIEGEL: Thats the other Neil Simon play

Mr. ROBBINS: Thats yeah, thats the other

SIEGEL: to be the companion revival

Mr. ROBBINS: Exactly.

SIEGEL: which also not opened.

Mr. ROBBINS: Exactly.

SIEGEL: Okay. So you had a week-run on Broadway.

Mr. ROBBINS: Yes.

SIEGEL: But thats a W-E-E-K, a week-long run on Broadway.

Mr. ROBBINS: Yes, yes.

SIEGEL: And what is the wisdom? What is the thing that you never would have expected about being in a Broadway show that you now know?

Mr. ROBBINS: Its not as different from high school as I thought. The theaters are better, the casts are better. But there was sort of the same amount of nervousness as for high school as they as I had for Broadway and that was something that I would have never expected.

SIEGEL: Did you get into any restaurants without a reservation, you know, as Mr. Robbins

Mr. ROBBINS: Oh gosh.

SIEGEL: from Brighton Beach Memoirs?

Mr. ROBBINS: You know, I was with people at that time that could get in without reservation. So, I dont know if I could personally do that, but I know people who can. So, thats got to count for something.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SIEGEL: Okay. Well, Noah, now that Brighton Beach Memoirs, despite its good reviews has closed, for you at age 19, whats plan B?

Mr. ROBBINS: Oh, I dont know. Im talking to my agents soon and they seem to be happy with the fact that I was - you know, at least I was Im much less of an unknown now than I was before, that I got this part. And were hoping that that leads to something. I dont know what that is. But time will tell I guess. I feel like a real actor now, you know, struggling.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SIEGEL: Youre struggling, yes, now. But if indeed you are not acting in a play in the fall, you start college?

Mr. ROBBINS: Im probably going to start college, no matter what happens next fall. And I have something to do.

SIEGEL: Well, youll be at Columbia. Thats on Broadway.

Mr. ROBBINS: Well, yeah

SIEGEL: Its Broadway and 116th Street, but its

Mr. ROBBINS: Exactly, exactly. Its New York and thats just as good - almost.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SIEGEL: Well, Noah, congratulations on the rare experience of having been already in a Broadway play at age 19

Mr. ROBBINS: Thank you.

SIEGEL: and sorry to hear about it closing so soon.

Mr. ROBBINS: Yes. Well, thank you very much.

SIEGEL: And thats for talking with us about it.

SIEGEL: No problem. Thank you.

SIEGEL: Thats 19-year-old Noah Robbins of Potomac, Maryland, who is in New York where for the past week he played the part of Eugene Morris Jerome in Neil Simons Brighton Beach Memoirs.

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