“Rose and Walsh” by Neil Simon – presented by Hampton Theatre Company
“Rose and Walsh,” a romantic comedy from acclaimed playwright, screenwriter and author Neil Simon, will kick off the Hampton Theatre Company’s 2023-2024 season, with performances running from October 19 through November 5 at the Quogue Community Hall. The company’s 39th season is dedicated to Don and Judy Gruhn, Quogue residents and longtime friends and supporters of the HTC.
A late-career play from one of America’s favorite playwrights – a Pulitzer Prize and three-time Tony Award winner and Kennedy Center Honoree who was awarded the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor in 2006 – “Rose and Walsh” showcases Neil Simon’s mastery of romantic comedy, cultivated over a career that spanned more than 60 years and 30 plays, including “The Odd Couple,” “Barefoot in the Park,” “Brighton Beach Memoirs,” “Lost in Yonkers,” “Rumors,” “The Goodbye Girl” and many more.
An apt coda to Simon’s brilliant career, “Rose and Walsh” is a heartfelt generational comedy whose themes of love and loss are tempered by a healthy dose of self-deprecating humor. In a cozy beachfront house in eastern Long Island, a literary icon named Rose, celebrated but in dire financial straits, receives nightly visits from Walsh, the love of her life and a famous writer in his own right.
Unnerved by Walsh’s revelation of an unexpected yet imminent departure, Rose learns that he intends to help secure her financial future through a unique creative partnership. The plan promises to change everything – not only for the two longtime lovers, but also for Rose’s talented and selfless assistant Arlene, as well as a brash young writer, Gavin Clancy, whose cynicism rises to the surface when Rose summons him to her home with an unusual proposal.
The first incarnation of “Rose and Walsh” was originally produced under the name “Rose’s Dilemma” by the Manhattan Theatre Club in New York City in 2003. Mary Tyler Moore, who was set to star as Rose, left the production before it opened (apparently Simon sent her a letter admonishing her to learn her lines), and the retitled “Rose and Walsh” premiered at the Geffen Playhouse in LA, with a cast that featured Len Cariou, Jane Alexander, Marin Hinkle and David Aaron Baker.
In its review, Variety wrote, “Simon successfully marries modern theatrics and plot devices with simple narrative in a way he hasn’t done since his mid-1980s hot streak that included “Broadway Bound,” striking that delicate balance between the comic (much of the first act) and the profound (the second) … he has never been so direct and single-minded as in ‘Rose and Walsh.’”
The Hampton Theatre Company’s four-member cast of “Rose and Walsh” includes a familiar pair of HTC veterans, both of whom starred in last season’s production of “The Portuguese Kid.” Rosemary Cline (“A Doll’s House, Part 2,” “Noel Coward’s “Private Lives”) plays Rose, with Andrew Botsford (David Mamet’s “November” and “Glengarry Glen Ross”) portraying Walsh. Making their HTC stage debuts are Alaina Manzo and Alexander Massaad as Arlene and Clancy, two erstwhile strangers who discover latent sparks as they navigate through Rose and Walsh’s strange and often-unsettling universe.
George Loizides (HTC’s “Over the River and Through the Woods,” “The Lifespan of a Fact”) directs; Roger Moley is the producer. Set design is by Mr. Loizides, Ricky Bottenus and Meg Sexton; lighting design by Sebastian Paczynski; sound by Seamus Naughton; and costumes by Teresa Lebrun.
Performances of “Rose and Walsh” will run from October 19 through November 5 on Thursdays and Fridays at 7, Saturdays at 8, and Sundays at 2:30. An additional matinee performance will be offered during the final weekend of the production, on Saturday, November 4, at 2:30, prior to the regular 8 p.m. performance that evening.
Two “talkbacks” with the cast will be offered to ticketholders immediately following the October 27 and November 3 Friday-evening performances.
Tickets are $36, $31 for seniors, and $20 for students 25 and under, and are available at the Hampton Theatre Company website at hamptontheatre.org or by calling 631-653-8955. Patrons can also purchase season subscriptions and individual tickets for the theatre’s 2023-2024 season; details available on the HTC website.