BWW Review: BAREFOOT IN THE PARK at New Theatre Restaurant

BWW Review: BAREFOOT IN THE PARK at New Theatre Restaurant

New Theatre Restaurant's production of Neil Simon's "Barefoot in the Park" is a charming, time warp that points up how much attitudes in America have shifted over 55 years. "Barefoot" is a romantic comedy in the best "Doc" Simon tradition. The Borsht Belt influenced dialog and one-liners are still there and still pretty funny after a half century. The play is essentially what we used to call a "comedy of manners."

The time is February 1965. It is a time before cell phones, the Internet and microwave ovens where heavy duty imbibing after work is still in fashion. Corie Bratner (Brittany Burch) is a 1965, unconventional, hippy kind of girl newly hitched to a much more conventional, buttoned up and buttoned down young lawyer named Paul (Seth Macchi). They are deeply in love and moving into their first apartment, a one room, fifth floor, New York walkup with a broken skylight that lets in the cold and occasional snowfall in equal measures. They are outraged by their unbelievable $125.00 monthly rent. (How NYC rents have changed!)

Corie's Mother is Ethel Banks played by the headliner "LaVerne and Shirley's" Cindy Williams. The audience is prepared for her to be a pain, but she surprises us. Ethel is the same kind of comedy straight arrow as her new son-in-law. Cindy is very good and funny in the role.

Corie worries about her Mom being alone and arranges a dinner with their eccentric upstairs neighbor, Victorio Velasco (Jim Korinke). Victorio is a sixty-five year old, out-of-work musical comedy actor, chef, and lady's man who is outrageous while remaining pretty harmless. Victorio's character is another example of how times have changed in the age of Harvey Weinstein. He has been locked out of his apartment because he is four months behind in his rent. He accesses his flat by climbing through the Bratner's bedroom window out onto the roof.

There are two running jokes in the show. Running gag #1 is having to climb all those stairs. Everybody except Corie grooves on this joke. An exhausted delivery man (Jerry Ogden) arrives with wedding gifts from Bloomingdales. He doesn't even have a line, but his evident exhaustion makes him a favorite. Running gag #2 is the multiple returns to various one-liners that get funnier with each repetition.

The phone man (Allan Baker) makes the trek enough times during the three act show so he begs any future trouble calls be assigned to someone else. Baker's comic timing is impeccable. Seth Maccihi's pratfalls connect his unsuccessfully trying to be wild self with his young attorney on the way up. Jim Korinke's Victorio is an old letch without being threatening and he is a New Theatre favorite. Brittany Burch's Corie is a little too earnest. She is very good, but the setting in time is so far removed from today, that it takes a while to figure out that she is a little on the wacky side. (Think "Dharma and Greg" and the show will make more sense.)

Paul and Corie have a big row. Ethel and Victorio connect. The phone guy just breathes hard. All turns out well in the end.

Sets, lighting, and effects are, as always, very professional. Dinner is excellent. "Barefoot in the Park" continues at New Theatre Restaurant through April 22. Tickets are available at www.newtheatre.com or by telephone at 913-649 SHOW.

Pictured are Cindy Williams and Brittany Burch from "Barefoot In The Park." Photo courtesy of New Theatre Restaurant and Roy Inman.

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