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Biloxi Blues was the twenty-first play by Neil Simon to reach the Broadway stage in twenty-four years. In the 1980s, the author, already an established comedic playwright, turned to his own life for inspiration and produced a trilogy of semi-autobiographical plays. He first introduced Eugene Morris Jerome, the hero of Biloxi Blues, in the widely acclaimed Brighton Beach Memoirs. That play depicted Eugene’s close-knit Brooklyn Jewish family, as seen through Eugene’s diary entries. In Biloxi Blues Simon follows Eugene as he gets sent to army training camp in Biloxi, Mississippi. There, the naive Eugene, who has never before left home, is forced to confront difficult issues and his own reactions to them. These experiences inform his development as a writer.
Biloxi Blues was a Broadway hit. Not only was it honored with a Tony Award for the best play of 1985, but also audiences warmed to the humor that filled each scene, indeed, almost every line. Critics noted that Simon, as he had done so many times previously, was able to draw his audience together with his relatively simple words. Despite the strongly comedic bent, the play also holds a more serious message as Eugene comes to learn about the wide world around him. More importantly, for Eugene’s personal development and his development as a writer, he comes to learn what his place in the world can, and should, be.
Directed by: Faith Paoni