"The way I see things, life is both sad and funny. I can’t imagine a comical situation that isn’t at the same time also
painful. I used to ask myself: What is a humorous situation? Now I ask: What is a sad situation and how can I tell it
-- Neil Simon
The Gingerbread Lady
A Play by Neil Simon
HTG Proposal for Fall ‘05
Producer: Melissa Mollen
Director: Kenny Fuentes
Stage Manager: Anna Mereport
Sound Designer: Chris Guillory
Lighting Designer: Josh Kaufman
Set Designer: Matt Francis
Set Construction: Dave Sagaser
UTC Fee- 25% of Estimated Ticket Sales= $500
Theater Fee- $1 per seat per show * 100 seats * 4 shows= $400
Total Expenses- $3,070
Ticket Sales- 4 shows * 100 seats/show= 400 seats total- 20% of 400 seats
* $5 (in advance) + 80% of 400 seats * $6= $2000
Program Ads- $400
Money from F-Board- $1000
Total Income- $3,500
*Profit estimate at base level and expected to be higher. Numbers based on past proposals and subject to change.
After ten weeks of intensive therapy at a rehab clinic, a failed singer named Evy Meara returns to
her New York apartment determined to restart and rebuild her life. Everything seems to be going great for
her at first, but she slowly (or not so slowly) falls back into her old lifestyle. Her friends and family begin
to realize that Evy is not as rehabilitated as they had hoped. Her teenage daughter, Polly, is protected and
treated as a child despite her unique grasp on the whole situation. She is forced to take on the role of parent
as her mother deteriorates. Her two closest friends, Jimmy and Toby, sincerely attempt to care for Evy but
are too caught up in their own dramas (both literally and figuratively) to notice Evy’s unstable mental state.
Meanwhile, a musician former lover reappears at this critical period of Evy’s life with the intent of getting
back together. The combination of events are too much for Evy who finally one night collapses into her
previous self, alienates her family and get beaten by her musician ex. Evy makes amends to all who she had
alienated during her breakdown but not without ongoing conflict and drama. Cautiously optimistic, Polly
forgives Evy as she has so many times before. Polly and her mother are forced to cope with the fact that
Evy will never be completely free from her alcoholism and must continue to fight an uphill battle for both
her daughter’s and her own sake.
Evy Meara: A former singer who holds the record for number of times falling off the stool during
a performance at Pittsburgh Club. She has just returned from ten weeks of rehab with renewed vigor and a
determination to get her life back on track and find a stable, normal career. However, she hides her frantic
inner struggle with her alcoholism behind a false sense of security and confidence.
Polly Meara: Evy’s sixteen year-old daughter. Polly possesses a maturity and wisdom uncommon amongst
most her age. She is treated like a child by everyone but Evy who relies on Polly as her Pillar.
Toby Landau: An aging beauty obsessed with maintaining her sex appeal. Toby is one of Evy’s two
closest friends. She is currently in the midst of a dull, childless marriage. She is bored by her husband who
uses her as a professional asset but seemingly content. She thinks of Polly as the daughter she never had
and sometimes treats her as such. She is sincere in her care of Toby, but often oblivious.
Jimmy Perry: A 40-someting out of work actor and Evy’s stereotypical “Gay Best Friend”. Jimmy is
neurotic, self absorbed, irritable but genuinely good at heart. He has been maintaining Evy’s place during
her stay in rehab and strives to support Evy and her return to normalcy. However, he has a habit of making
situations worse despite his sincerity. He is not entirely out of the closet, but makes no attempt to hide his
Lou Tanner: A struggling musician, down on his luck and looking to get Evy back in his life. He’s a
confident skirt chaser who fails at masking his selfishness.
Manuel: The self-assured delivery boy. He takes pride in his status as a hardworking immigrant despite
how often people look down on him.
This show will have a fair amount of technical and artistic demands that the Shapiro Theater and
UTC are suited for. While the cast is not huge, they will require a fair amount of stage space. Lights in
particular are going to be very important for this show as I plan to use them as a visual device in certain
scenes. The UTC will also attract a strong pool of talent for auditions that this show requires.
When I first began telling people that I wanted to propose “The Gingerbread Lady”, the scene
went as follows:
Miscellaneous Non-Freshman Individual: What are you proposing?
Me: “The Gingerbread Lady” by Neil Simon
(Miscellaneous Non-Freshman Individual gives a smile, a chuckle and a nod)
Miscellaneous Non-Freshman Individual: Ah…another Neil Simon play…
When I learned that Neil Simon had become an unofficial standard for HTG for three years in a row before
I arrived, I realized that perhaps this might pose a problem. How do I justify proposing “The Different Neil
Simon Play” after so many “Different” Neil Simon plays?
I don’t like the idea of trying to justify a show, but luckily “The Gingerbread Lady” needs no more support
to convince me that it deserves to go to the stage. When I first read this play, I was struck at the
juxtaposition of a comedy that is set around characters living and experiencing such dramatic situations.
Alcoholism, physical abuse, and bigotry are clearly not happy subjects. In fact, some would go so far as to
say they are bad things. I am one of those people.
This distinction makes “The Gingerbread Lady” not just another comedy. There is no Schedenfreude. The
laughter is not as a result of the misfortune of others like many comedies. You laugh because the characters
cannot. This makes it not just another Neil Simon play. This is a show that walks along the thin line that
separates many contrasts while dipping its toes on each side constantly.
This aside, Neil Simon writes wonderful plays. He's more than just a great Jewish playwright, he's a great
playwright, period. I feel that "The Gingerbread Lady" is one of his best.