LAUGHTER ON THE 23rd FLOOR by Neil Simon
Adelaide Repertory Theatre, Arts Theatre
Directed by David Grybowski
It’s the early years of television in 1953, and the comic writers of The Max Prince Show in New York write Max an hour-and-a-half-long sketch show that is broadcast live every week! Laughter on the 23rd Floor is a roman à clef as Neil Simon was actually such a writer for Sid Caesar, the real-life show host on which Max Prince is based. While we enjoy the witty banter of the comedians, Max is fighting an epic battle with his network bosses. Television is coming of age and will expand broadcasting far beyond New York – the executives don’t think the audience in Ohio and Kentucky will get the Shakespeare jokes, and the writers are anxious about their jobs. The play shows the huge contribution to American humour from European Jewish immigrants and their American-born offspring in the time of McCarthy’s persecutions and the birth of the hydrogen bomb. It’s a very funny play – all the characters are comedians! Max pays well and they are the best in the business.
CHARACTER OUTLINES – New York American accents with some Jewish affectation unless otherwise noted, must be able to tell a joke.
9 CAST MEMBERS – 4 younger males & 2 younger females, and 3 older males, all except Helen are comic writers.
MAX – Male older, major role, stage-age late 30s early 40s, New York Jew but hides it for the television camera, commanding presence, brooding, agitated, angrily explosive, charismatic, commands attention by his presence.
LUCAS – Male younger, major role, stage-age mid-20s, represents a young Neil Simon new to the writing team, eager novice, intelligent, sensitive, New York Jew, first on-last off stage, also narrator.
VAL – Male older, 40s-50s, maybe younger, Jewish emigrant from Russia, Russian accent, second oldest on set, tries to keep the team writing amongst the chaos but as crazy as the rest.
MILT – Male younger, New York Jew, lost soul, funny (but they are all funny).
BRIAN – Male younger, late 20s stage-age, smoker, trying to get ahead, losing hair would be great (it’s in the script), Irish (not Jewish) – so Irish accent, dreamer.
KENNY – Male younger, late 20s stage-age, New York Jew, sophisticated, cool, intelligent.
IRA – Male older, oldest in cast, hypochondriac, great extravagant supporting character role, “He is all energy with a touch of brilliant madness.”
HELEN – Female, any age, not Jewish, any US accent, MAX’s PA, small role, great for the inexperienced.
Please note the role of Carol has been pre-cast but we add her description for context:
CAROL – Female, late 20s stage-age, New Yorker, not Jewish, only female comedian on staff – faking male behaviour to fit in, tough on outside.
Rehearsals generally Tuesdays and Thursdays 7-10 pm, Sundays 12-4 pm, starting 13 Sept 2022 but be prepared to start a week earlier if a “COVID” break is anticipated.
Performance Thursday-Saturday 17-19 November 2022 and Wednesday-Saturday 23-26 November 2022, with matinee on final day 26 November.
Everybody is on stage most the time, but some parts will be able to skip the first week or so of rehearsals. Great ensemble piece!
Auditioners will schedule a time for a 15 minute audition that will include auditioner performing dialogue with a reader, or a monologue from the play. Please indicate whether you would prefer a morning or afternoon slot.
You don’t need to memorise – just be very familiar with it. The Director will be looking for energy, interpretation of changes in intention, and accent, and understanding of context. The Director is happy to take your phone call for discussion on the audition piece 0400 299 503, and has an accent coaching blurb he can email to you. Digital copy of script will be provided on request.
Also prepare a joke of about 30 seconds length (not a riddle, a proper story joke) and tell it in your audition accent. Any joke, not necessarily one you made up. During rehearsal, we will have access to a bona fide New York Jew for accent.
NOTE: There is some swearing in the play – the f word and the sh*t word. It’s all just boy’s room banter and not nasty or hostile.
TO BOOK YOUR AUDITION:
Email Laura (board member) at firstname.lastname@example.org and she will allocate you a 15 minute audition slot.