‘Barefoot in the Park’: 2nd ACT Community Theater returns next weekPlaywright Neil Simon’s longest-running hit, “Barefoot in the Park,” takes on new life for three dinner theater performances in Jamestown.
By: Brian Willhide, The Jamestown Sun, The Jamestown Sun
Playwright Neil Simon’s longest-running hit, “Barefoot in the Park,” takes on new life for three dinner theater performances in Jamestown.
The famous Broadway comedy’s original 1,530 performances from 1963 to 1967 made it the 10th-longest running non-musical in Broadway history, according to the Internet Broadway Database.
Despite being written for audiences almost 50 years ago, Director Lori Dorr called the play “timeless” and “a story for the common man.”
“Simon writes about real people in real situations, whether it’s in the 1960s or today,” she said.
The play follows a newlywed couple, Paul and Corie Bratter, who move into a dilapidated apartment in New York City.
The Bratters’ honeymoon phase is quickly filled with clashes over their living situation, a surprise visit from Corie’s mother, a peculiar neighbor named Velasco and vast personality differences between the couple.
The question is: Can their love survive these problems?
At the heart of the play is the contrast between husband and wife.
Dorr said Paul is an up-and-coming, young attorney who always tries to maintain an even keel while Corie is a vibrant, energetic woman who “grabs life by the throat and strangles it.”
Working with Dorr for the first time are lead actors Ben Rodgers and Sarah Cole. The director said she can’t wait for people to see how talented the two performers are.
“I’ve been blessed with an amazing group of actors in this play,” she said. “It’s truly a gift when you can premiere two people like Ben and Sarah as strong, confident leads.”
Cole said her role as Corie is one that has left her emotionally drained after rehearsals each day.
“It’s such an up-and-down character, so this role can really take a lot out of you,” she said.
She said what drew her to Corie’s character most was her free spirit and outlook on the world.
Rodgers, playing the role of Paul, displays a more cautious demeanor.
“Paul is a very grounded man who is both logical and reasonable,” Rodgers said.
Having been away from acting for eight years, Rodgers said he’s excited to get back on stage to portray this character.
“Lori gave me this opportunity after she said I would be perfect for the part and I’ve really enjoyed kind of making it my own,” he said.
Cole and Rodgers began working on the play in late November and spent 30 days without a director, as Dorr was still in the midst of finishing “Mother Goose Was Eaten by Werewolves.”
“That time really allowed us to get our timing down and gain familiarity with one another,” Cole said.
Rodgers said there’s a good dynamic between him and Cole that has progressed since their first rehearsals.
“We spent about three-four days a week just one-on-one running through scenes to get down the dialogue,” he said.
“I checked in on their progress occasionally, but giving those two that time to build a rapport I think was the perfect way to do it,” Dorr said.
The six-person cast is rounded out by supporting roles from Chris Sheppard as Corie’s mother, Reggie van Beekom as Victor Velasco, Shelly Andersen as Harry Pepper the telephone man, and Bill Nybo as a delivery man.
The 2nd ACT Community Theater’s production in association with The Arts Center comes to the Quality Inn & Suites with dinner at 6 p.m. before each performance March 1-3.
Tickets are solid in advance only at $20 for Arts Center members and $25 others. For ticket information, contact The Arts Center at 701-251-2496.
Sun reporter Brian Willhide can be reached at 701-952-8454 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org