by Neil Simon
directed by Michael Perlman
Corie is a romantic free spirit. Paul is a conservative young lawyer. This classic romantic comedy follows these six-day-old newlyweds as their dream marriage and five-story walk-up apartment fall apart in front of their very eyes. This hilarious and profoundly touching 1963 play by Tony and Pulitzer Prize winner Neil Simon explores universal questions about love, compatibility and relationships. Sometimes unpacking the emotional baggage is the biggest move of all.
Venue: The Ruth
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Rating: PG for mild language
ABOUT THE SHOW
“With Neil Simon, you can sort of walk out of the theater and hum the jokes, like humming the tunes from a musical.” — David Ives, Playwright
Director – Michael Perlman+
Scenic Design – Tristan Jeffers
Costume Design – Asa Benally
Lighting Design – Mandi Wood
Sound Design – Elisheba Ittoop
Stage Manager – Nia Sciarretta*
Asst. Stage Manager – Alex Skaar
Corie Bratter – Caitlin Wise*
Paul Bratter – Dustin Bronson*
Corie’s Mother, Mrs. Banks – Christy Brandt*
Victor Velasco – Logan Ernstthal*
Telephone Repairman – Antony Terrell
In Rewrites, Neil Simon’s 1996 memoir, he writes extensively about life with his first wife, Joan, who passed away from cancer at age 40 in 1973. From the very first chapter of that memoir, it becomes clear that Barefoot in the Park is lovingly based on their early life together in New York City. A place Joan loved fully and was resistant to the mere thought of moving West when Neil’s television writing career threatened to move them to the other coast.
“To [Joan], New York was the center of the universe. It was the ballet, the theater, the museums, The New York Times, the Seventy-Second Street Marina, steamed clams in Montauk, fall drives through Vermont, the U.S. Open in Forest Hills, sailing in Long Island Sound, old bookstores, Greenwich Village pubs where you could see Franz Kline paintings and Maxwell Bodenheim poems tacked to the walls in lieu of paying their bar bills. And yes, even walking barefoot in Washington Square Park with a feisty dog named Chips, on a cool October night, sitting on a park bench till three o’clock in the morning.”
Simon goes on to describe their first apartment, where they moved immediately after their marriage at the Criminal Courts Building in lower Manhattan in 1953.
“Money never mattered much to Joan. She could and did live contentedly in our first apartment, a one-room, five-story walk-up in the Village. It had a small dressing room which she converted to an even smaller bedroom. It had a low doorway and I couldn’t see how she could get a bed in. It would, I thought, have to be born in there. Never underestimate the wiles and ingenuity of a newlywed decorating her first apartment. I came home that first night we moved in, having put in a full day on the Caesar show, and found the bed in the room. ‘How?’ I asked, expecting some reasonable answer. ‘I don’t know,’ she replied. ‘I just did it.’ She was capable of things like that.”
Sound familiar? Barefoot in the Park might just be the bed born in that dressing room in a tiny Village apartment.
Director’s Note: Michael Perlman
Welcome to 1963. A time in our history when everything seemed to be in flux: the younger generation was proudly standing up for its values, the role of women’s voices in our society was moving closer to the center, and America was about to be confronted with its most turbulent time in many years. In other words, a time of transition. In many ways, Barefoot in the Park can seem to be a step behind the revolution that was occurring surrounding its debut on Broadway. The truth is, however, that transition is at the heart of what Barefoot is about. Each of our characters is undergoing a shift from one phase in life to the next and discovering that it is much more difficult than they ever expected it to be. Whether it’s getting married, becoming an empty-nester or accepting the fact that as time marches on, the effects of age catch up with us, Neil Simon captures something essential about the human experience in these characters’ experiences. As we know, the only constant in life is change. Well, and maybe the everlasting joy and catharsis great writers like Neil Simon can give to those of us lucky to be in a room with his characters.
Barefoot in the Park is presented by special arrangement by Samuel French, Inc.
*Member of Actors’ Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States.
+ Member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society