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Release: Immediate

Iowa Summer Rep at UI selects Neil Simon as its 1997 playwright

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Iowa Summer Rep, the University of Iowa's professional repertory company, has selected Neil Simon as its 1997 playwright. Each season Iowa Summer Rep presents a festival of plays by a single contemporary playwright.

June 25-July 26 in the UI Theatre Building, Iowa Summer Rep will produce:

-- "Broadway Bound," which Time magazine dubbed "the best American play of the '80s, the last play in Simon's autobiographical "B" trilogy that includes "Biloxi Blues" and "Brighton Beach Memoirs";

-- "Laughter on the 23rd Floor," Simon's affectionate tribute to the brilliant and beleaguered comedy writers with whom he worked on Sid Caesar's "Your Show of Shows" in TV's Golden Age; and

-- "God's Favorite" a modern, comic, Long Island version of the Biblical story of Job, whose faith is challenged by an accumulation of afflictions.

Iowa Summer Rep will also present a minimally staged reading of rarely performed Simon material on July 22.

Simon is the most popular American playwright of the last 40 years, a dependable comic hit-maker whose work has been seen not only on Broadway but in a series of feature films. The broad appeal of scripts including "Barefoot in the Park," "The Odd Couple," "Sweet Charity" and "The Sunshine Boys" made Simon one of the most commercially successful writers of the 20th century.

But in recent years Simon has finally shed his reputation as merely a facile joke-teller to gain recognition as a playwright who combines talent and craft with intelligence, depth and humanity. In 1995 he won the Pulitzer Prize, a litmus test for serious playwriting, for "Lost in Younkers."

Iowa Summer Rep subscriptions go on sale April 21 at the Hancher box office. Individual tickets go on sale May 12. A brochure with a full performance schedule is available from the box office or the UI Department of Theatre Arts, 319-335-2700.

Hancher box office hours are 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. weekdays, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday and 1-3 p.m. Sunday. From the local calling area or outside Iowa, dial (319) 335-1160. Long distance within Iowa and western Illinois is toll-free, 1-800-HANCHER. Fax to (319) 353-2284. Orders may be charged to VISA, MasterCard or American Express. People with special needs should dial (319) 335-1158. The line is equipped with TDD for people with hearing impairment who use that technology.