Our Show of Shows and Laughter on the 23rd Floor
Peter Pryor and the cast of Laughter on the 23rd Floor. Photo by Mark Garvin.
1812 Productions produced two shows in repertory, a first for the all-comedy theater company: the world premiere of Our Show of Shows, which celebrates television legend Sid Caesar and Imogene Coca's 1950s TV variety show, Your Show of Shows; and a production of Laughter on the 23rd Floor, written by one of the program's scriptwriters, Neil Simon.
Work on the productions was enhanced by a connection to Sid Caesar through his biographer, Eddy Friedfeld, who dramaturged the new work and kept Caesar abreast of progress. Neil Simon offered insights on writing for Caesar's TV program in the 1950s along with his views on comedy. "Because both gentlemen are icons, their presence was always felt in the room," the 1812 staff reflected afterward. "It felt vital that we get it right for them. That we honor them. It allowed us to approach both pieces with sincerity and to embrace the optimistic and hopeful humor without commenting on it. What we found is that our audience surrendered to it, loved it and needed it. It is tiring to be ironic all the time."
"Hail Caesar!" wrote the Philadelphia Inquirer. "[This] old-fashioned comedy worthy of Sid...gleams with comic gold."