Simon Shifts Plays Away From Broadway

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NEIL SIMON, the most successful contemporary playwright in America, says his new works may never again be Broadway-bound.

Fed up with costs running to $1.5 million by opening night, dismayed by the preoccupation with megahit musicals, Mr. Simon for the first time is opening a play without plans to go to New York. In fact, there are no plans to go anywhere with ``London Suite,'' his 30th play, which runs through Nov. 5 at the Seattle Repertory Theater.

``I don't think there's going to be a major resurgence of plays on Broadway unless the audience starts to get tired of just going to these musicals and wants to see plays,'' he says. ``What they do now is they go off Broadway.''

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The Rep is spending roughly $438,000 on ``London Suite,'' which is typical for a main-stage production, out of an annual budget of slightly more than $6 million, says managing director Benjamin Moore. (Off Broadway, Simon says, the cost would run about $800,000.)

Simon came to Seattle for his first collaboration with director Daniel Sullivan, a three-time Tony Award nominee.

The Rep won a Tony for regional theater in 1990. Since 1989, Sullivan has taken ``The Heidi Chronicles'' and ``The Sisters Rosensweig'' by Wendy Wasserstein and ``I'm Not Rappaport'' and ``Conversations With My Father'' by Herb Gardner to New York for successful runs.

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