Opening night for Plaza Suite on Broadway is March 28, and although the play stars real-life husband and wife duo Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker, scenic designer John Lee Beatty jokes that he really got top billing in the production, which is directed by John Benjamin Hickey. “It’s the title of the play. I was laughing with Sarah Jessica and Matthew about it the other day and said, ‘You know, I got the title role here,’” Hickey tells AD.
He’s really not wrong. The lavishly appointed titular suite (number 719 to be exact) is the sole backdrop for the three-act play-turned-film-turned-play. First premiering in 1968, the comedy written by the late Neil Simon involves three different sets of characters all played by the Ferris Bueller’s Day Off actor and the Sex and the City star and all staying in suite 719 at Manhattan’s famed Plaza Hotel: a troubled couple celebrating their anniversary, a Hollywood producer reuniting with his old high school flame, and parents trying to coax their daughter out of the bathroom on her wedding day. It’s the first time the showbiz couple, who have been married for over two decades and share three children together, has appeared together since the 1995 play How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.
For the interiors, Beatty was influenced by the classic Alfred Hitchcock film, North by Northwest, where Cary Grant’s character stays in a suite at the Plaza while searching for the man who stole his identity. “I started with the film because it had a certain glamour and a beautiful color scheme that really inspired me,” Beatty tells AD. (The 1959 film also marked the Plaza’s big screen debut.) A regal, yellow-toned champagne color appears on the gilt-framed damask covered walls, bedspread and tufted upholstery in Beatty’s onstage version—he says it is a nod to the fact that the play is “a champagne experience.” The two-time Tony Award winning designer also called upon his own memory, recalling a time he won a raffle ticket to stay at the hotel and noticed how tall the room’s architecture was.