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Barefoot in the Park
a Comedy
by Neil Simon

COMPANY : Stage Door Players [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Stage Door Players [WEBSITE]
ID# 4960

SHOWING : September 23, 2016 - October 16, 2016



Straight as an arrow lawyer Paul and free spirited Corie are newlyweds. Moving into a "charming" top floor apartment after a six-day honeymoon, reality sets in when they realize that their new life together is not all champagne and romantic walks in the park without shoes. Add in a crazy neighbor in the attic, and a plan to play matchmaker for Corie’s mother, and you have all the makings of a first rate classic comedy by the Tony Award winning master himself.

Director Robert Egizio
Corie Bratter Alyssa Caputo
Victor Velasco James Donadio
Harry Pepper Rial Ellsworth
Paul Bratter Edward McCreary
Delivery Man Evan Weisman
Ethel Banks Ann Wilson
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Flat, Five Flights Up
by playgoer
Sunday, September 25, 2016
At the early performance of Stage Door Players’ "Barefoot in the Park" that I attended, a woman stood up shortly after the audience started clapping at the end of the show. When no one joined her, she slid back into her seat by the time the last cast members came onstage. That summarizes the production; worthy of a non-standing ovation.

Neil Simon’s script is sure-fire, and it manages to carry the show, aided by the secondary performances. Evan Weisman is all winded exhaustion as the delivery man, and Rial Ellsworth invests the telephone repairman with jocular bonhomie. James Donadio is all suavity and innocent menace as Victor Velasco (with a charming accent that seems nine tenths Spanish, with hardly a hint of the Hungarian his character supposedly is), while Ann Wilson makes Ethel Banks an appealingly open-minded matron. The chemistry between Mr. Donadio and Ms. Wilson works delightfully.

Unfortunately, the Corie and Paul Bratter of Alyssa Caputo and Edward McCreary don’t seem to share much chemistry, even though director Robert Egizio has her leaping into his arms at every whipstitch. Ms. Caputo had numerous line stumbles in this early performance, which hampered the free-wheeling approach of her Corie Bratter. That probably will improve during the run. Mr. McCreary’s Paul has the stuffed shirt quality of his character down pat, but doesn’t have a sense of well-timed sarcastic expression when upset, which makes most of his laugh lines fall flat.

Chuck Welcome’s set design is pretty ugly. A kitchenette platform up right is echoed by an entryway platform up left, with skylight panels up center. A wood stove and radiator are tucked in next to the entryway/bedroom/bathroom platform. When furniture is brought in for the second act, it has the appearance of hand-me-downs, which contradicts the script’s assertion that furniture delivery is coming from Bloomingdale’s. In the cramped mish-mash of furniture that results, one gets no sense that Corie has performed magic in transforming the space.

Lighting design, by J.D. Williams, doesn’t help much. There’s a cloud effect through the skylight at the start, but the sky itself is an unnatural rose color. There are no city lights visible through the skylight in the night scenes. There’s an oversized moon effect at the very end of the show, but it seems a rather blatant attempt to end the show on a romantic note. Otherwise, the lights go on and off nicely as switches are flicked.

Jim Alford’s costumes are fine, as are Kathy Ellsworth’s props. Rial Ellsworth’s sound design is excellent, with nice kitchen sounds and remarkably realistic muffled conversation from the floors below. George Deavours’ wig design appears to be very basic, with no indication of a tired tinge in Ethel Banks’ hair.

"Barefoot in the Park" is an old chestnut of a play at this point, but there is no reason why it should come across as second-rate entertainment. Neil Simon’s script is still terrific, but it needs two charismatic leads to bring life to the emotional heart of the show. This production seems largely to be going through the motions. We’ve come to expect more from Robert Egizio in his productions. If the pace and timing pick up during the run, "Barefoot in the Park" may come closer to the sweet and funny comedy it should be. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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