Thanks to Neil Simon I made the front page of my High School newspaper in the spring of 1973. My one and only brush with the prolific playwright involved a scandal.
In my senior year of High School, I was delighted to be cast as Norma Hubley in the hilarious play Plaza Suite. As a devotee of theatre, the chance to utter the sharp and witty dialogue of the great Neil Simon was a dream come true.
However my dream was nearly squashed when the play was considered “too scandalous and indecent” for my buttoned-up suburban community.
Neil Simon was just too hot to handle.
Let’s Get it On
Although by 1973 the sexual liberation was in full gear apparently it had missed Franklin Square, NY. The Revolution would go on without us.
The controversy over the choice of play came smack on the heels of protestation by parents concerning whether sex education should be included in health education curriculum. That ugly uproar caused our principle to decide to censure our upcoming play. As though we were putting on a stage production of Deep Throat the PTA went into a tizzy.
The cause of this hoopla? The “racy” second act.
The three act play each involved different characters but all set in suite 719 of the Plaza Hotel. The second act featuring a meeting between a movie producer, a smooth-talking ladies man with the intent on seducing an old flame who was uninterested in his advances was just too risqué.
When word of the production got out, petitions were drawn up to shut down the play and meetings set up. The sexual innuendo between unmarried people was just too improper. Finally Simon’s lines were rewritten and risqué lines deleted.
But the lines of inappropriate behavior being crossed was the furthest thing from their minds.
Seen through the lens of the MeToo Movement the fact that the Harvey Weinstein like character crossed the line as a fun-loving “ladies man” attempting to seduce an uninterested party was not the issue. What they objected to was the illicit nature of the meeting.The fact that she repeatedly rebuffed his advances was of little consequence.
I wonder what High Schools would think today.