Music Box Theatre, (2/07/1982 - 2/07/1982)

First Preview: Jan 15, 1982
Opening Date: Feb 07, 1982
Closing Date: Feb 07, 1982
Total Previews: 26
Total Performances: 1

Category: Play, Original, Broadway
Setting: During the past decade in various locales in California, New York and Colorado.

Opening Night Production Staff

Theatre Owned / Operated by Irving Berlin and The Shubert Organization (Gerald Schoenfeld: Chairman; Bernard B. Jacobs: President)

Produced by Morton Gottlieb, Ben Rosenberg and Warren Crane; Produced in association with Thornhill Productions Inc.; Associate Producer: Martin Cohen and Milly Schoenbaum

Written by Bernard Slade

Directed by Gene Saks

Scenic Design by David Jenkins; Costume Design by Jennifer von Mayrhauser; Lighting Design by Tharon Musser

General Manager: Ben Rosenberg; Company Manager: Martin Cohen

Production Stage Manager: Warren Crane; Stage Manager: Kate Pollock

General Press Representative: Milly Schoenbaum and Solters / Roskin / Friedman, Inc.; Press Associate: Warren Knowlton; Advertising: Serino, Coyne & Nappi; Photographer: Martha Swope; Assistant to the Producer: Dasha Epstein; Production Assistant: Thomas P. Santopietro

Opening Night Cast

Richard MulliganMichael Ruskin
Suzanne PleshetteAmy Ruskin
David JayVoice of Stephen

Standby: Marsha Skaggs (Amy Ruskin)


New York Daily News: "'Special Occasions' nothing special"

Bernard Slade, the author of last night's labored hodgepodge at the Booth, a two-character comedy called "Special Occasions," has gone to such lengths to keep subsidiary characters off the stage that he hardly knows what to do with the two who inhabit it. In fact, they seem to spend half the evening talking about the absentees. Then, for variety's sake, there's the ever-present telephone and its noxious adjunct for recording messages.

Suzanne Pleshette and Richard Mulligan are such amiable and deft performers that one aches for them in the ordeal Slade has put them through. When we first encounter Amy and Michael Ruskin, it is in their California living cell outside whose French windows an orange tree stands, and continues to stand, emblematic of the play's stagnancy, through subsequent winter scenes in Aspen, Colo., and ones in the heart of Manhattan. The "special occasions" are anniversaries, weddings, funerals, play openings and other catastrophes.

As he looks on at the start, she is unwrapping presents received during a just-ended 15th wedding anniversary celebration, a party held despite the fact that they're about to be divorced. Over the next 10 years, we follow their fortunes and misfortunes, mostly involving their three children and their own attachments to other partners, including a brief marriage between Amy and Michael's best friend and lawyer.

The offstage happenings, which reach as far as Hawaii, are so numerous and shattering (the Aspen scene is in a hospital where the son has been placed in a burn unit after a spectacular auto accident) that they could keep a soap-opera audience enthralled for at least five years. As it is, the walls of David Jenkins' cumbersome set must keep shifting about so often, with suitable changes of furniture, that we sometimes lose track of where we are.

He's a reformed television writer turned playwright, first with a flop (there's even a 30-second scene in a Broadway theater lobby unaccountably equipped with a phone he uses to call his wife out West so he she can hear the laughter inside; as George S. Kaufman once observed, someone must have been telling a joke in the back of the theater), and then with a hit. After that, he decides, at 50, to give up writing, aware that his talent is "minimal," a lesson from which Slade might have profited after "Tribute," "A Romantic Comedy," and, as far as I'm concerned, "Same Time, Next Year."

Michael's a shy, self-inquiring, yet voluble type. Amy's "competitive" but inwardly insecure, causing her to become an alcoholic (oh yes, that too). And after all is said and done, they end as they began, a decade having passed for them and for us, dancing to a living-strings recording of "Love Is Here to Stay."

The laughs are few and far between, and one of the two biggest comes from a line so hoary that Slade, in self-protection, has Michael add, "That's from an old joke." The other big laugh is occasioned by one of the many vulgarisms she is forced to utter in her enchanting contralto, and that under the circumstances sound so much more offensive than the street language spewed from other more honest plays than this wholly synthetic, confused one.

She looks marvelous throughout in her many costume changes, and he (Michael has to change clothes a great deal, too, of course) is extremely resourceful given such thankless material. Rise above it, they can't, neither one; but they never cease struggling to rise to it.

Gene Saks is credited with the direction, but the stagehands who keep shoveling, swiveling and trundling the scenery about (all but that orange tree) deserve equal billing. The play doesn't move an inch, but the scenery is forever on the go.

New York Daily News

Replacement/Transfer Info

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

Music Box Theatre

(2/7/1982 - 2/7/1982)
Press Representative: Kevin Patterson.

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