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|Written by||Neil Simon|
Eugene Morris Jerome
Sgt. Merwin J. Toomey
|Date premiered||December 8, 1984|
|Place premiered||Ahmanson Theatre, Los Angeles|
Brighton Beach Memoirs
|Subject||A Jewish boy from Brooklyn undergoes basic Army training in the Deep South|
|Setting||Biloxi, Mississippi, 1943|
Biloxi Blues is a semi-autobiographical play by Neil Simon. It portrays the conflict of Sergeant Merwin J. Toomey and Arnold Epstein, one of many privates enlisted in the military stationed in Biloxi, Mississippi, seen through the eyes of Eugene Jerome, one of the other soldiers. This play is the second chapter in what is known as his Eugene trilogy, following Brighton Beach Memoirs and preceding Broadway Bound, and is the only one in which Eugene is not the central character. The play won the Tony Award for Best Play, and Barry Miller won a Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Play for his performance as Arnold Epstein.
The story begins with 20-year-old Eugene Morris Jerome from Brooklyn, who is drafted into the United States Army during World War II and is sent to Biloxi, Mississippi for basic training. There he meets a diverse assortment of soldiers, including the gentle and intelligent Arnold Epstein, who is the play's central figure. The piece portrays Epstein's struggle for power with middle-aged, hard-drinking platoon leader Sergeant Merwin J. Toomey. In the play's most memorable scene, Epstein manages to force Toomey to perform two hundred push-ups in front of the platoon.
Biloxi Blues had its world premiere at the Ahmanson Theatre, Los Angeles, California, running from December 8, 1984 to February 2, 1985. It then ran at the Curran Theatre in San Francisco from February 6 through March 9, 1985.
Biloxi Blues opened on Broadway at the Neil Simon Theatre on March 28, 1985 and closed on June 28, 1986 after 524 performances and 12 previews. Directed by Gene Saks, the cast starred Barry Miller as Arnold and Matthew Broderick as Eugene. Scenic Design was by David Mitchell, costume design by Ann Roth, and lighting design by Tharon Musser. Emanuel Azenberg served as producer in association with Center Theatre Group/Ahmanson Theatre.
- William Sadler - Sgt. Merwin J. Toomey
- Barry Miller - Arnold Epstein
- Penelope Ann Miller - Daisy Hannigan
- Randall Edwards - Rowena
- Matthew Broderick - Eugene
- Matt Mulhern - Joseph Wyzykowski
- Alan Ruck - Don Carney
- Geoffrey Sharp - James Hennesey
- Brian Tarantina - Roy Selridge
Awards and nominations
Source: Tony Awards at BroadwayWorld
- Tony Award for Best Play (winner)
- Tony Award for Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Play (Barry Miller, winner)
- Tony Award for Best Direction of a Play (Gene Saks, winner)
- Theatre World Award (Barry Miller, winner)
- Drama Desk Award for Outstanding New Play (nominee)
- Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Featured Actor in a Play (Barry Miller, winner; Bill Sadler, nominee)
- Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Director of a Play (Gene Saks, nominee)
A 1988 film adaptation was directed by Mike Nichols. The cast starred Broderick as Eugene, with Christopher Walken (Sgt. Toomey), Matt Mulhern (Wykowski), Corey Parker (Epstein), Markus Flanagan (Selridge), Casey Siemaszko (Carney) and Penelope Ann Miller (Daisy).
- "Ahmanson Production History" centertheatregroup.org (webcache), accessed April 12, 2012
- "SHN Season History 1985" shnsf.com, accessed March 7, 2015
- "'Biloxi Blues'" Internet Broadway Database, accessed April 12, 2012
- Rich, Frank. "Stage: 'Biloxi Blues,' Simon's New Comedy" The New York Times, March 29, 1985
- Rich, Frank. "Stage View; Once Again, Theater Was A Place For Wonder" The New York Times, December 29, 1985
- "Tony Awards, 1985" broadwayworld.com, accessed April 12, 2012
- Ebert, Roger. Biloxi Blues suntimes.com, March 25, 1988