Theatre brings ‘Brighton Beach’ to Fort Worth

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    TCU Theatre is traveling back to 1937 Brooklyn.

    “Brighton Beach Memoirs,” written by Neil Simon, is a semi-autobiographical portrayal of growing up in a Jewish-American family in 1937 Brooklyn, told through the eyes of the 15-year-old Eugene.

    “It’s a coming of age story for everyone, but mostly Eugene,” said junior theatre major Taylor Whitworth, who plays Eugene’s cousin Nora.

    Sophomore theatre major Stephen Rosenberger, who plays Eugene, said everything is shown through Eugene’s eyes. The audience gets to become Eugene’s confidant.

    “For me, it’s so interesting being able to interact with not only the other characters but the audience as well,” Rosenberger said, “because most plays don’t allow for that dynamic.”

    Whitworth said the show is extremely universal and something that will relate to everyone.

    “I mean it’s a story about family, connections, dreams and growing up,” Whitworth said. “It’s so heartbreaking sometimes it will make you want to cry, but also so funny that you will laugh out loud and have tears coming down your face.”

    The comedy in the show isn’t “in your face,” Whitworth said. It’s funny because it’s things that happen in real life.

    “It’s so funny to see a kid trying to figure his way out through puberty and asking the questions we all asked at one time or another,” said Rosenberger.

    Stage manager Brittan Benedict, a sophomore theatre production major, said the set is a two-story set.

    It replicates a house split down the middle. The bedrooms and bathroom are on the second floor while the living and dining rooms are on the first.

    The set also has an interactive twist.

    “The set is also really unique in that it extends into the audience with a lower flight of stairs, and the front yard is literally the front row of the seats,” Rosenberger said.

    He said it’s refreshing to see how this family grows as a unit over the course of the play. Each family member learns how to use his or her own strengths to balance other family member’s weaknesses.

    “It’s cool to sit back in the audience watching a family that’s not yours and see how it parallels to your life,” Whitworth said.

    Jennifer Engler, TCU theatre associate professor, is the director of the show. The cast of seven includes Devin Berg, Leroy Hood, Sydney Kirkegaard, Samantha McHenry, Jacob Oderberg, Rosenberger and Whitworth.

    Shows are at 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 24-Feb. 28 and at 2:30 p.m. on Feb. 28 and March 1. The play is in the Jerita Foley Buschman Theatre in Ed Landreth Hall.

    Tickets are $10 for the public and $5 for TCU students, faculty and staff.