Chapter Two (play)

Chapter Two is a semi-autobiographical play by Neil Simon. The play premiered on Broadway in 1977, where it ran for 857 performances.

Chapter Two
Playbill cover
Written byNeil Simon
Date premieredOctober 7, 1977
Place premieredAhmanson Theatre
Los Angeles
SubjectA writer struggles to escape the memory of his recently deceased wife


According to Sheridan Morley, "This was in some ways the turning-point for Simon, the moment when he started to use his own life as something more than an excuse for a gag-fest. It was written as a tribute to Marsha Mason, his second wife, and her tolerance with his long-lasting grief over the death of his first wife...There is something very painful here, in among the gags, about a man trying to come to terms with death rather than a new life."[1]


The play focuses on a recently widowed writer, George Schneider, who is introduced by his press agent brother to soap opera actress Jennie Malone. Jennie's marriage to a football player has dissolved after six years. Both are uncertain of their readiness to start dating and developing a new romance when her breakup is so recent and he still has recurring memories of his deceased wife, Barbara.

Neil Simon's first wife, Joan Baim, died in 1973.



The play had its world premiere at the Los Angeles Ahmanson Theatre on October 7, 1977, closing November 26. Produced by Emanuel Azenberg and directed by Herbert Ross, the cast included: Judd Hirsch as George, Anita Gillette as Jennie, Cliff Gorman as Leo, and Ann Wedgeworth as Faye.[2] The production won the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Awards (1977–78): Distinguished Production; and Neil Simon, Distinguished Playwriting.[3]

The play opened on Broadway at the Imperial Theatre on December 4, 1977, and transferred to the Eugene O'Neill Theatre in January 1979, where it closed on December 8, 1979 after 857 performances and seven previews.[4] The Los Angeles cast reprised their roles on Broadway. Cast replacements included David Groh, Dick Latessa, Laurence Luckinbill, Robin Strasser, and Susan Browning.

The play received four 1978 Tony Award nominations: Tony Award for Best Play; Anita Gillette for Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play and Cliff Gorman for Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Play.[5] [4] Ann Wedgeworth won the 1978 Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Play.[6]

The play premiered in the West End at the Gielgud Theatre in February 1996, with Tom Conti and Sharon Gless.[1][7] Gless later recorded a two-disc audiobook of the play with David Dukes for LA TheatreWorks.


A portion of the Chapter Two 1977 play and Chapter Two (1979 movie) were used in the plot of the sitcom Seinfeld's third season's episode: "The Letter, Season 3, Episode 20".[8]


Simon adapted the play for the 1979 film version Chapter Two. It was directed by Robert Moore with James Caan and Simon's then-wife Marsha Mason, the inspiration for character Jennie.[9] Caan said he made the film to earn some money while preparing for Hide in Plain Sight (1980 film).[10]


  1. Morley, Sheridan. "Choice of Plays for the In-Laws" The New York Times, February 28, 1996
  2. "Ahmanson Theatre production history" Archived December 14, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  3. "Ahmanson Theatre Awards" Archived January 14, 2016, at the Wayback Machine (webcache), December 2007, accessed April 11, 2012
  4. Chapter Two Playbill, retrieved October 16, 2017
  5. " Chapter Two, Awards and nominations" Internet Broadway Database, accessed April 11, 2012
  6. Thomas, Robert McG., Jr. "Ain't Misbehavin" and Da Win Tonys", The New York Times, June 5, 1978, p.C18
  7. Hanks, Robert. "Neil Simon's 'Chapter Two' is not a patch on Woody Allen's Annie Hall" The Independent (London), 22 February 1996
  8. "Movie Connections for Seinfeld, The Letter" IMDb. Retrieved April 22, 2014.
  9. Passafiume, Andrea. Chapter Two" Turner Classic Movies, accessed April 11, 2012
  10. "Movies: Film Directing: For Caan, It'S Not A Festival", Mann, Roderick. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 02 Nov 1980: q31.
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