Genius playwright Neil Simon really hit pay dirt when he fashioned BAREFOOT IN THE PARK. The play opened on Broadway in 1963 – and played for 1,530 performances, becoming Simon’s longest running hit. Coincidentally, this was also the tenth longest running show in Broadway history. Audiences were enchanted, and Mike Nichols received the coveted Tony as Best Director. In 1967, BAREFOOT IN THE PARK became a hit film starring Robert Redford and Jane Fonda. It was resurrected as an ABC television series in 1970 and morphed into an African American situation comedy. The 1981 Seattle stage production was filmed and released by HBO in 1982. Clearly, there’s something infectious about this long-lived comedy. And now, in 2018, it has again been revived by the Glendale Centre Theatre.
The year is 1963, and newlyweds Corie and Paul (Stephanie Skewes and Joshua Evans) have just moved into their first apartment, which happens to be a leaky five-story walk-up in Greenwich Village. For elfin-like, free spirited Corie, this is heaven. For Paul, the telephone repair man (Mark Gates), and the delivery man (Rick Steele) it’s hell climbing the stairs to the top floor. But wait! This isn’t the top floor, eccentric artist Victor Velasco (Ted Wells) lives in the attic above their heads – and must cut through their bedroom to go home via the roof. When Corie’s widowed mother (Caron Strong) comes to visit, Corie decides that she must be lonely – but Corie has a solution. What better way to offer daughterly aid and assistance than by setting her up with charming Victor-of-the-attic?
As this rollicking yarn unfolds, it quickly becomes obvious that the liberated ‘60’s Corie is going to clash horns with her very conservative, buttoned-down lawyer husband. Why can’t he learn to enjoy the delicate fairytale February snowflakes as they flutter through the hole in their skylight? And why can’t he walk barefoot in the park anyway?
Director George Strattan does an excellent job of digging into this story. Even though the tale is set in the 1960’s – and remains in the ‘60’s in this production – it doesn’t have a dated feel. Words like “cute,” “charming,” and “delightful” come to mind as the young couple struggles to deal with their first real altercation. Simon’s light touch is evident everywhere, to the credit of a talented cast and a director who knows how to move things along. A capable production team adds to the enjoyment. You’ll soon find it very hard not to keep smiling as the comedy slowly unravels. Old fashioned though it may be, it has retained its universal appeal over the past 50 years. This is fun with a capital “F.”
BAREFOOT IN THE PARK runs through February 10, 2018, with performances at 8 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays, at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Saturdays, and at 3 p.m. on Sundays. The Glendale Centre Theatre is located at 324 Orange Street, Glendale, CA 91203. Tickets are $32 for adults and $20 for children. For information and reservations, call 818- 244-8481 or go online.