Biloxi Blues

Biloxi Blues is a semi-autobiographical play by Neil Simon. It portrays the conflict of Sergeant Merwin J. Toomey and Arnold Epstein, one of many privates enlisted in the military stationed in Biloxi, Mississippi, seen through the eyes of Eugene Jerome, one of the other soldiers. This play is the second chapter in what is known as his Eugene trilogy, following Brighton Beach Memoirs and preceding Broadway Bound, and is the only one in which Eugene is not the central character. The play won the Tony Award for Best Play, and Barry Miller won a Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Play for his performance as Arnold Epstein.

Biloxi Blues
Written byNeil Simon
CharactersArnold Epstein
Eugene Morris Jerome
Daisy Hannigan
Joseph Wykowski
Don Carney
Sgt. Merwin J. Toomey
James Hennesey
Roy Selridge
Date premieredDecember 8, 1984
Place premieredAhmanson Theatre, Los Angeles
Original languageEnglish
SeriesEugene Trilogy:
Brighton Beach Memoirs
Biloxi Blues
Broadway Bound
SubjectA Jewish boy from Brooklyn undergoes basic Army training in the Deep South
SettingBiloxi, Mississippi, 1945

Plot overviewEdit

The story begins with 18-year-old Eugene Morris Jerome from Brooklyn, who is drafted into the United States Army during World War II and is sent to Biloxi, Mississippi for basic training. There he meets a diverse assortment of soldiers, including the gentle and intelligent Arnold Epstein, who is the play's central figure. The piece portrays Epstein's struggle for power with middle-aged, hard-drinking platoon leader Sergeant Merwin J. Toomey. In a memorable scene, Epstein manages to force Toomey to perform two hundred push-ups in front of the platoon.


Biloxi Blues had its world premiere at the Ahmanson Theatre, Los Angeles, California, running from December 8, 1984 to February 2, 1985.[1] It then ran at the Curran Theatre in San Francisco from February 6 through March 9, 1985.[2]

Biloxi Blues opened on Broadway at the Neil Simon Theatre on March 28, 1985 and closed on June 28, 1986 after 524 performances and 12 previews. Directed by Gene Saks, the cast starred Barry Miller as Arnold and Matthew Broderick as Eugene. Scenic Design was by David Mitchell, costume design by Ann Roth, and lighting design by Tharon Musser. Emanuel Azenberg served as producer in association with Center Theatre Group/Ahmanson Theatre.[3][4]

Opening castEdit

Sources:Internet Broadway Database;[3] The New York Times[4]

Notable replacementsEdit

Matthew Broderick was succeeded by Bruce Norris, Zach Galligan, William Ragsdale, and Jonathan Silverman. Jamey Sheridan replaced William Sadler as Sgt. Toomey.


Frank Rich wrote: "Besides being extremely funny, Biloxi Blues is Mr. Simon's first serious attempt to examine his conscience as an artist and a Jew."[5]

Awards and nominationsEdit

Source: Tony Awards at BroadwayWorld,[6] Playbill[7]

Film adaptationEdit

A 1988 film adaptation was directed by Mike Nichols. The cast starred Broderick as Eugene, with Christopher Walken (Sgt. Toomey), Matt Mulhern (Wykowski), Corey Parker (Epstein), Markus Flanagan (Selridge), Casey Siemaszko (Carney) and Penelope Ann Miller (Daisy).[8][9] Reprising their stage roles in the movie were Broderick, Miller, and Mulhern.


  1. ^ "Ahmanson Production History" (webcache), accessed April 12, 2012
  2. ^ "SHN Season History 1985", accessed March 7, 2015
  3. ^ a b "'Biloxi Blues'" Internet Broadway Database, accessed April 12, 2012
  4. ^ a b Rich, Frank. "Stage: 'Biloxi Blues,' Simon's New Comedy" The New York Times, March 29, 1985
  5. ^ Rich, Frank. "Stage View; Once Again, Theater Was A Place For Wonder" The New York Times, December 29, 1985
  6. ^ "Tony Awards, 1985" Archived 2012-04-19 at the Wayback Machine, accessed April 12, 2012
  7. ^ Playbill" 'Biloxi Blues' Broadway" Playbill, October 18, 2017
  8. ^ Ebert, Roger. Biloxi Blues, March 25, 1988
  9. ^ Canby, Vincent. "Review/Film; Film: Simon's 'Biloxi Blues,' Coming of Age in the Army" The New York Times, March 25, 1988

External linksEdit