The Gingerbread Lady
is a 1970 play by Neil Simon
, written specifically for actress Maureen Stapleton
, who won both the Tony Award
and Drama Desk Award
for her performance.
A major departure from Simon's previous lighthearted romps, The Gingerbread Lady
was a dark drama with comic overtones centering on Evy Meara, a cabaret
singer whose career, marriage, and health all have been destroyed by alcohol. Having just completed a ten-week stint in a rehab
facility to overcome her addiction
, she returns home to the welcome of friends with their own problems - an overly vain woman who fears the loss of her looks and a homosexual
actor in danger of losing a part in a play - her devoted but anxious teenaged daughter, and a worthless ex-lover. Evy's efforts at hosting a party crumble when she falls off the wagon and careens toward a tragic end.
After twelve previews, the Broadway
production - directed by Robert Moore
- opened on December 13, 1970 at the Plymouth Theatre
, where it ran for 193 performances. It proved to be one of Simon's least successful plays on Broadway, although it frequently is performed in summer stock and by community theater groups.
, Simon adapted his play for the screen under the title Only When I Laugh
, with his then-wife Marsha Mason
in the lead role. His reworking of his original script transformed it into a comedy with dramatic overtones, and the film was a critical and commercial success nominated for three Academy Awards