Eugene O'Neill Theatre, (4/03/1980 - 1/11/1981)

First Preview: Mar 15, 1980
Opening Date: Apr 03, 1980
Closing Date: Jan 11, 1981
Total Previews: 17
Total Performances: 324

Category: Play, Comedy, Original, Broadway
Setting: West Hollywood, California. The present.

Opening Night Production Staff

Theatre Owned / Operated by Nancy Enterprises, Inc.

Produced by Emanuel Azenberg

Originally Produced at Center Theatre Group / Mark Taper Forum (Gordon Davidson, Artistic Director)

Written by Neil Simon

Directed by Herbert Ross

Scenic Design by David Jenkins; Costume Design by Nancy Potts; Lighting Design by Tharon Musser; Assistant Lighting Design: Curt Ostermann; Women's Hairstyles by Gerry Leddy (of Damian's)

General Manager: Jose Véga

Production Stage Manager: Frank Marino; Stage Manager: Arlene Grayson; Technical Supervisor: Arthur Siccardi

General Press Representative: Bill Evans, Howard Atlee, Leslie Anderson and Jim Baldassare; Casting: T.N.I. Casting, Julie Hughes and Barry Moss; Advertising: The Entertainment Group of J. W. Thompson; Photographer: Martha Swope

Opening Night Cast

Ron LeibmanHerb
Dinah ManoffLibby
Joyce Van PattenSteffy

Standby: Mimi Cozzens (Steffy) and Valerie Landsberg (Libby)

Awards and Nominations

Tony Award®

winner 1980 Best Featured Actress in a Play [winner] 

Dinah Manoff

Drama Desk Award

 1980 Outstanding Set Design [nominee] 

David Jenkins

Theatre World

winner 1980 Award [recipient] 

Dinah Manoff


New York Daily News: "New Simon empty, labored"

Is Neil Simon going soft? Or is the prodigiously industrious playwright tapped out? One hopes not, but his latest effort, "I Ought to Be in Pictures," an oddly muted comedy that arrived at the O'Neill last night, is, when all is said and done by its three characters, an empty and labored evening. "Shaky confidence" is ascribed to the middle-aged hero by his middle-aged mistress, and it also seems to be Simon's problem here. Teetering on the edge of sentimentality, this play about a father and daughter rediscovering - or discovering, really - one another after a long separation worries its subject all evening long, never daring to be either too funny or too caring.

It has been written and directed (by Herbert Ross) and is acted with painstaking attention to detail and an almost solemn air of sincerity. But there is little evidence of enthusiasm in the writing, so that in the end we are only aware of contrivance and of characters who vanish from our consciousness like puffs of smoke.

Herb Tucker is a down-on-his-luck screenwriter living in a bright, cheerless horror of a cracked-stucco, tiled-roof West Hollywood bungalow with a single bedroom and a small plot of ground on which he has proudly grown an orange tree and a lemon tree, objects to which Simon glancingly attaches symbolic significance. Sixteen years earlier, Herb simply up and left his wife and two small children, a boy and girl, in Brooklyn (he offers two seemingly contradictory reasons for his action, but no matter), and within a month was settled in movieland.

For two years now, and after a couple of short-lived Hollywood marriages, he has been having a comfortable affair (on Tuesday nights only; in between, he sees other women) with a divorcee named Steffy Blondell, who has a good job as a movie makeup woman and two kids of her own. Steffy would like Herb to give up his ratty dwelling and move in with her, but there's that "shaky confidence."

Enter Libby Tucker, Herb's 19-year-old daughter (the orange tree), who has bused and hitchhiked her way west with the avowed intention of becoming a movie star, but actually to get to know and receive a sign of love from her dad, whom she has neither seen nor heard from since she was three. A spunky, plain-looking girl, she gets her wish and heads back to Brooklyn after a two-week stay.

We leave Herb at the typewriter, ready for action once more, as Steffy slips off to prepare a Chinese dinner at her presumably more livable house. Maybe there's hope for Herb after all.

Herb, a distant cousin of the sports writer Oscar in Simon's "Odd Couple," remains a faithful fan of the Dodgers, even in L.A., and an occasional inspector of horse flesh at Hollywood Park. Ron Leibman plays him skillfully, getting off a few good Simon sallies and rising to his one sustained comic scene in a description to his daughter of the limited possibilities of her being discovered in a town with "5,000 agents" vying for the same jobs on their clients' behalfs.

Dinah Manoff is a forthright Libby; who has the odd habit of consulting her dead grandma with some regularity. And Simon, not without effort, fills out her role and the second act by having her consult her father about sex.

The first half ends, by the way, with Libby reading from "The Belle of Amherst," Emily Dickinson's description of the loss of her father, a brief passage so moving that it doesn't belong in the same theater with "I Ought to Be in Pictures."

Joyce Van Patten, who keeps popping in and out, plays a vacuous role engagingly.

David Jenkins' gleefully detailed set is enough to discourage prospective L.A. home buyers and visitors to the area alike, and Nancy Potts' costumes and Tharon Musser's lighting add to the shabby splendor of a region the sun-hating Herb describes as having "30 inches" of rain in two hours and nothing but sun the rest of the year.

One can sense the tone Simon is striving for in "I Ought to Be in Pictures," but it has eluded him along with any suggestion of genuine feeling, the result being a dead play.

New York Daily News

Replacement/Transfer Info

The following people are credited as replacements or additions if they were not credited on opening night.

Eugene O'Neill Theatre

(4/3/1980 - 1/11/1981)


Valerie Landsberg
Libby (Dec 15, 1980 - ?)
Dick Latessa
Herb (Nov 17, 1980 - ?)
Bill Macy
Herb (Sep 8, 1980 - ?)
Bernice Massi
Steffy (Oct 5, 1980 - ?)

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