Neil Simon’s Brighton Beach Memoirs

Brighton Beach, September 1937. Eugene Jerome is dreaming of baseball and girls. Over the course of a few short days amid family harmony and disharmony, young Eugene will come to understand life a little deeper.  This award-winning play is a bittersweet memoir that captures the life of a struggling Jewish household where, as his father states “if you didn’t have a problem, you wouldn’t be living here.”

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Neil Simon (Playwright) American playwright Neil Simon penned some of Broadway’s most memorable productions, including The Odd Couple, Lost in Yonkers, Laughter on the 23rd Floor and Broadway Bound among many others. Born on July 4, 1927, in New York City, Neil Simon began writing comedy for some of radio and television’s top talents in the 1940s. Turning to the stage, he enjoyed his first major hit with Barefoot in the Park in 1963, and later scored Tony Awards for The Odd Couple (1965), Biloxi Blues (1985) and Lost in Yonkers (1991). Simon also became a successful screenwriter, earning acclaim for both original and adapted works. In addition to his numerous Tony and Academy Award nominations, Simon in 1983 became the first living playwright to have a Broadway theater named in his honor. He passed away on August 26, 2018, due to complications of pneumonia.


Summer Baer (Nora) is a graduate of Southern Illinois University of Edwardsville with her BA in Theatre Performance. She was most recently seen in Night of the Iguana as Charlotte and As You Like It as Celia. You may have also seen her in shows such as A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Hermia), Gruesome Playground Injuries (Kayleen). Summer would like to thank the cast and crew for their amazing work, and, as always, her family and friends for their constant love and support.


Chuck Brinkley (Jack) is very excited to work at the J for the first time and in one of his favorite shows. He wants to thank Meg for putting up with him, and Ian, Connor, and Collin for supporting Dad and his acting habit. 



Jacob Flekier (Eugene) is so excited to make his debut at New Jewish Theatre in one of his dream roles! Jacob graduated this past spring from Webster Conservatory of Theatre Arts. St. Louis credits include 9 to 5, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, and Disney’s 101 Dalmations (STAGES St. Louis), A Streetcar Named Desire, Will Mr. Merriwether Return From Memphis (Tennessee Williams Festival St. Louis), Love’s Labour’s Lost, Three Sisters, Brigadoon, The Drowsy Chaperone (Webster Conservatory). All my love and thanks to my amazing family, Edward, my brilliant Webster faculty, and the class of 2019! @FlekinAround

Lydia Foss (Laurie) is grateful and excited to open the 2019-20 season at The New Jewish Theatre after closing out the 2018-19 season in I Now Pronounce. She was most recently seen in the original work, An Amazing Story with Gitana Productions. Lydia enjoys outdoor activities, books, visual art, gardening, fashion, Shakespeare, acting, singing and dancing, reading the funny pages and travel. She is an incoming 7th grader and is in a brick and mortar school after several years of home-schooling. She is grateful to Carrie Houk for her long-term coaching and support and to Michael James Reed and Delaney Piggins/Shakespeare Squadron for sharing their knowledge and support.

Spencer Kruse (Stanley) is thrilled to make his New Jewish Theatre debut! He is a 2019 graduate of the Conservatory of Theatre Arts at Webster University. University credits include Orlando in As You Like It, Andrei in Three Sisters and Maurice Wilkins in Photograph 51. Much love and gratitude to his family, as well as to Jacob Flekier, a brother onstage and off.


Laurie McConnell (Blanche) is thrilled to return to the New Jewish Theatre, having performed in 2011’s The Last Night of Ballyhoo. Recent roles: Birdie – The Little Foxes (St. Louis Actors’ Studio – Theatre Critics Circle Best Supporting Actress); Jennifer – The Realistic Joneses (Rebel and Misfits); Sister Peggy – As it is in Heaven (Mustardseed); Laurie was honored by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Go! List as “Favorite Stage Actress of 2019.” But her greatest honor is being married to her favorite director, Alan Knoll.

Jane Paradise (Kate) is delighted to make her New Jewish Theatre debut! Most recent STL credits: Nurse in Romeo & Juliet (Shakespeare Festival STL), Sweet Revenge (Upstream Theater), and The Imaginary Boyfriend (STL Fringe Festival). With Upstream Theater she has appeared in La Cocina con Elisa, El Concierto, Maria’s Pictures, The Return of the Bedbug, and Helen’s Necklace. Regional credits: Alley Theater, Williamstown Theater Festival, and Indiana Rep. Thanks and love to my boys. 


Alan Knoll (Director) is familiar to New Jewish Theatre audiences as an actor but is thrilled to make his New Jewish Theatre directorial debut. Directing credits include Arsenic & Old Lace (Ozark Actors’ Theatre); Unnecessary Farce (Nebraska Rep); A Perfect Wedding (Old Creamery Theatre); Bah! Humbug!; The Elves and The Shoemaker; A Gnome For Christmas; Laura Ingalls Wilder: Voice Of The Prairie; The Christmas Skates (The Repertory of St Louis’ Imaginary Theatre Company); The Last Romance (Insight Theatre); That Championship Season; The Great American Trailer Park Musical; The Female Odd Couple; This Wonderful Life (Best One-Person show of 2009 – The Riverfront Times) (Dramatic License Productions).

Emma Hersom (Assistant Stage Manager) Emma is delighted to return to New Jewish Theatre having previously worked as makeup supervisor for Time Stands Still. She has worked for many St. Louis theatre, opera and circus companies. Most recently, she has worked as wardrobe crew for Max & Louie Production’s Indecent and Union Avenue Opera’s Candide and La Bohème; as stitcher/wardrobe crew for Circus Flora’s The Caper in Aisle Six; and as assistant stage manager for Winter Opera St. Louis’s twelfth season.

Michele Friedman Siler (Costume Designer) Michele returns for her 20th season with NJT, where she has designed many productions in previous years including Time Stands Still, Life Sucks, New Jerusalem, Never the Sinner, Intimate Apparel, Driving Miss Daisy, Yentl, Old Wicked Songs, The Whipping Man, and Shlemiel, The First (St. Louis Theatre Circle Nominee). Recent St. Louis credits include A Streetcar Named Desire for the Tennessee Williams Festival (St. Louis Theatre Circle Nominee); The Tempest, King Charles III, Cardenio, and The Heir Apparent (St. Louis Theatre Circle Nominee) for St. Louis Shakespeare; Into the Breeches (St. Louis Theatre Circle Nominee), as well as three seasons of Educational Touring shows for the Shakespeare Festival of St. Louis; The Agitators, Salt, Root and Roe, Infected, A Human Being Died That Night, The Kiss, The Death of Atahualpa (Kevin Kline Award Nominee), and Woyzeck for Upstream Theater; Blithe Spirit (St. Louis Theatre Circle Nominee) and Waiting for Godot  for St. Louis Actors’ Studio; and The Chosen for Mustard Seed Theatre. Michele was named “Best St. Louis Costume Designer” in the 2016 Post-Dispatch GO! List.

Michael Sullivan (Lighting Designer) Previous designs for New Jewish Theatre include Way to Heaven (Circle Award for Lighting Design) and Time Stands Still. Michael is an Associate Professor in the theatre program at Fontbonne University and is a Mustard Seed Theatre Founding Artist. Previous design work includes All is Calm (Circle Award) for Mustard Seed Theatre, Avenue Q for Westport Playhouse, and Candide for Union Avenue Opera. Much love to Jane, Mark and Zoe.

Margery and Peter Spack (Scenic Designers)

Zoe Sullivan (Sound Designer)

Kathryn Ballard (Stage Manager)

New Jewish Theatre Staff

Edward Coffield (Artistic Director) Edward was named New Jewish Theatre’s Artistic Director & Producer in the spring of 2018, but his association with New Jewish Theatre started in 2002. At New Jewish Theatre, he has directed more than sixteen productions. Among his favorites are 4000 Miles, My Mother’s Jewish Lesbian Wiccan Wedding, Yentl, Driving Miss Daisy, Falsettos, Crossing Delancey, Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh, The Last 5 Years, Laughter on the 23rd Floor and The Immigrant. He also has directed plays at Stray Dog Theatre, Insight Theatre Company, The Orange Girls, Saint Louis Shakespeare Company and the 2012 Briefs Festival. At the St. Louis Theatre Circle Awards, Edward is a multiple nominee for Outstanding Director of a comedy, and he was a three-time nominee for The Kevin Kline Award for Outstanding Direction. In years past, Edward has been associated with The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, The La Jolla Playhouse, The Alley Theatre, Theatre Project Company and The Lyceum Theatre in Arrow Rock, Mo. Edward produced The Annual Kevin Kline Awards Show and “The Laramie Project: 10 Years Later” for The Rep as part of a national project. Edward serves on the faculty of the Conservatory of Theatre Arts at Webster University.

Aemi Tucker (Production Manager) is happy to return for her 7th season with New Jewish Theatre.  She received her Master’s in Lighting Design from Temple University and has worked with companies such as (the original) Cleveland Opera, Ko-Thi Dance Co., Akron Opera and Cleveland Ballet. She held the position of Events Production Manager and Lighting Designer for many years at Cain Park Amphitheatre in Cleveland, lighting artists such as Richie Havens, Bela Fleck, and Los Lobos. She had the privilege of assisting in lighting the gala tents for the opening of the Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame in 1995. Much love to my first loves; Halle, Jake, and Steve for allowing me to be working in my second love.

Natalie Piper (Box Office Manager)

Laura Skroska (Technical Director)