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On Stage: Neil Simon

Satire, slapstick, farce: No matter how it is dressed, comedy is a theatrical mainstay. 

Aristophanes, Shakespeare, Moliere, Oscar Wilde, Noel Coward, Christopher Durang: These are some of the playwrights who spring to mind when we talk about stage comedies over time. And of course no discussion of onstage comedy in the US is complete without mentioning Neil Simon.

Simon is responsible for creating some of the most enduring comedies made for the stage. His work includes Come Blow Your Horn, Barefoot in the Park, The Odd Couple, The Brighton Beach trilogy, Prisoner of Second Avenue, Plaza Suite, and Lost in Yonkers. He also adapted a number of his plays for film including The Odd Couple which was nominated for an Oscar for Adapted Screenplay in 1968 and subsequently became a successful television show. Among Simon's other adaptations for the screen are Plaza Suite in 1971 and The Sunshine Boys in 1975. He is the only playwright to have had four productions of his work running simultaneously on Broadway. But it was a drama--Lost in Yonkers--that won him the Pulitzer Prize in 1991.

Of Simon, actor Jack Lemmon said, "Neil has the ability to write characters--even the leading characters that we're supposed to root for---that are absolutely flawed. They have foibles, they have faults, but they are human beings. They are not all good or all bad. They are people we know."

Sanda Moore Coleman received an MFA in creative writing from Wichita State University in 1991. Since then, she has been the arts and community editor for The Martha's Vineyard Times, a teaching fellow at Harvard University, and an assistant editor at Image. In 2011, she received the Maureen Egan Writers Exchange prize for fiction from Poets & Writers magazine. She has spent more than 30 years performing, reviewing, and writing for theatre.