Veteran Actor Returns to Hawthorne Players For ‘Laughter on the 23rd Floor’

"Max Prince" (the Sid Caesar character portrayed by Todd Micali) tries to retrieve a joke from "Ira Stone," the Mel Brooks character portrayed by Larry Quiggins.  John Robertson looks on in disbelief.          Photo by Larry Marsh

“Max Prince” (the Sid Caesar character portrayed by Todd Micali) tries to retrieve a joke from “Ira Stone,” the Mel Brooks character portrayed by Larry Quiggins. John Robertson looks on in disbelief. Photo by Larry Marsh

(Special to the Independent News)

Timing is everything in comedy–and in life in general.   Funny man Sid Caesar would have appreciated that the timing of his recent death was a fortuitous coincidence for Hawthorne Players.  In April, the venerable theatre company will present a Neil Simon play about Caesar’s early days in television.

“Laughter on the 23rd Floor” will be presented at the Florissant Civic Center Theatre on April 4, 5, 11, 12 at 8:00 p.m. and April 13 at 2:00. Tickets are $18 and $16 and may be reserved at the box office, by phone at (314) 921-5678 and online at www.florissantmo.com.  Special group rates are also available.

The comedy is a fond remembrance of Simon’s experiences as a young staff writer on Caesar’s ground-breaking 1950s television program, Your Show of Shows.   Director Peter Banholzer surely appreciates the timing.  He says,  “We are very proud and excited to honor Sid Caesar’s remarkable life and career with this very funny play.”

The timing is also right for Larry Quiggins, who grew up in Berkeley and Florissant.  He is returning to Hawthorne Players for the first time since he portrayed Linus in 1981′s “You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown.”   In “Laughter . . .” he will portray a character inspired by Mel Brooks.  He will join an all-star cast headed by Todd Micali in the Sid Caesar role.

Quiggins has spent a lifetime in the theatre, beginning at Berkeley Junior High in the late 70s.  He came to McCluer North as a Junior and promptly landed the role of Billis in the school’s 1980 production of “South Pacific.”  The orchestra for that show was directed by current Hawthorne president Larry Marsh. “All these years later, I still have clear memories of his outstanding performance,” says Marsh.

In 1991 a new role fell in his lap. He was cast in a production of “Dracula,” but the director abruptly quit, and Quiggins was drafted to take on the job.  The cast included many college age students, and Quiggins quickly realized what he wanted to do with his life: he wanted to teach theatre.

“It was an epiphany,” he says, “At that moment, I knew that teaching theatre in college was what I wanted to do.”  He went back to school, got his advanced degrees, and for the last twelve years has been a professor of theatre at Lindenwood College.

Banhozer has assembled an all-star Hawthorne cast for the show.  They portray Caesar’s harried writing staff as they frantically scramble to top each other with gags while competing for the attention of star madman “Max Prince” (Sid Caesar).

Max is portrayed by Todd Micali.  Max’s writing staff includes Jeffrey Loyd and Danny Grumich, John Robertson and Robert Doyle.  They are joined by Danny Brown, who recented starred as Javert in Les Miserables.  Kelsey Ruthman and Kathryn Weber round out the all-star ensemble.

More information about the show available at www.hawthorneplayers.com



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