Delivering laughs, tears and a bit of nostalgia, Tin Building Theater thespians take the stage with Neil Simon’s iconic play “Barefoot in the Park;” two performances remain
CLIFTON – The “bedroom” is really a dressing room with only place for a marriage-testing oversized single. The bathroom has no bath. The upstairs plumbing leaks into the closet. And the radiator and other plumbing is backwards, leaving the young couple in the freezing cold, also because the skylight has a broken pane, letting in the wind and snow.
Did we mention there’s a host of crazy neighbors to contend with as well. Will love be able to conquer all the things that go wrong in a newly-wed couple’s first couple of days in their life together in their one-room, top-floor New York’s Midtown East apartment on 48th Street and 3rd?
The Bosque Arts Center’s Tin Building Theater opened its fall show, Neil Simon’s “Barefoot in the Park,” Saturday Oct. 7. After the show, audience members complimented the cast on “an excellent performance,” “incredible acting,” “engaging show,” “job well done,” and “truly next level.”
Two show dates remain of this classic comedy – a regular evening performance on Friday, Oct. 13 at 7 p.m. and a dinner theater performances on Saturday Oct. 14 at 6:30 p.m. Reserve tickets to this highly entertaining play by calling 254-675-3724 or by going online at http://www.bosqueartscenter.org.
The wall color of the freshly painted room is too bright a yellow, the stove and fridge are antiquated, the five flights of stairs (six if you count the stoop) are a constant challenge for everyone. Corie Bratter is giddy though; filled with hope of the future with her husband, filled with pride on having found this gem for a low rent, filled with sexy thoughts of their six-day honeymoon at the Plaza Hotel. Paul is less enchanted with it all, and is more occupied with his budding career and life’s responsibilities.
In the play, it soon becomes clear there is a big contrast in characters between the cautious and unadventurous young lawyer on the first rung of his career and his somewhat self-centered, impulsive young bride. Corie does not appreciate Paul’s logical outlook when it interferes with her fun.
While executed with a small crew of four main characters and two minor roles, the performance is extremely engaging, entertaining and excellently executed by the cast. Simon’s highly skilled writing does the rest, taking the dime-a-dozen premise of one simple situation, transforming it into an appealing and captivating comedic drama.
“Hell week was long, but the cast showed they were ready,” Director Don Boysen said. “This show with a bit more depth gave the actors a chance to stretch their abilities. And this crew just clicked and worked really well together. This shines through in their acting.”
Debbie Rollins provided support for Boysen as assistant director along with the production crew of Stage Manager Joe Grelle, Ginger Mclean, Jacely Baker, Tomas Tremillo as well as lights and sound man Steve Schmidt.
Both main characters Kassidy Cardona as Corie and Michael Richardson as Paul are able to transport the audience into their NYC newly-wed world. The first cracks in their relationship surface when Corie’s spirited, self-absorbed ways clash with Paul’s more ponderous approach to things.
Corie wants Paul to dance barefoot in the park mid-winter; but he just wants to come home to a heated apartment and take a soothing bath. The added chaos of matchmaking a single, insecure mother-in-law and a womanizing upstairs neighbor drives him to the brink. For Corie, it’s all or nothing – very much in love or ”this marriage is over,” when she doesn’t get her way.
With 634 lines to memorize and bring alive, Cardona had a gargantuan task laid out for her, and she shone on opening night, impressively making her character believable, lovable and irritating at the same time. A postal clerk by day, Cardona is obsessed with theater, and attended a school for Musical Theatre. She made her debut on the Tin Building stage last season in “A Funny Little Thing Called Love.”
“I am over the moon to be able to join this cast and to find such a wonderful theatre community right down the road from home,” Cassidy said.
Whitney resident Richardson admirably portrays the amiable but a bit stodgy counterpart to Cardona’s bouncy Corie, parrying her drama queen hysterics with logic and reason….until he breaks.
Ricahrdson has loved the theater limelight since he was a peppermint stick in the Nutcracker as a kindergartner, studying film and television at TSTC and is the market manager of the Hillsboro Brookshires. He starred previously in the TBT “Honky Tonk Hissy Fit,” and “A Funny Little Thing Called Love.” In this play, he shares the stage with his mother Connie Terry.
Terry plays Corie’s widowed mother Ethel Banks “all alone, out there in New Jersey.” Ethel is stuck in middle ground between accommodating and encouraging her daughter, but understanding Paul’s reservations.
Throughout school, Terry was involved in theater before joining the BAC Variety Show cast in 2018. And since then, she has been in multiple TBT shows, including “Under a Cowboy Moon,” “Honky Tonk Hissy Fit,” “Four Old Broads,” “Let Him Sleep til it’s Time for his Funeral,” and “Funny Little Thing Called Love,” making cherished friendships along the way. When she’s not on stage “strutting her stuff,” Terry is the manager of the Whitney Citizens State Bank.
Kevin King’s character ladies’ man and Bluebeard from 48th Street, Viktor Velasco aims to bring some adventure into everyone’s lives, including his own. Corie sets up her mother on a blind date with this broke but intriguing neighbor.
A relative newcomer to acting, King fulfilled a lifelong dream by taking to the stage with the Waco Civic Theater in 2019. He knows this season’s TBT cast from his role in “A Funny Little Thing Called Love.” He is especially thrilled to perform in the community he and his wife Jill call their own for the past five years.
The cast is rounded off with Telephone Repairman Charles McLean and The Lord & Taylor Delivery Man Richard Haas, both regulars on and off the TBT stage. Their roles may be small, but they make a memorable impression.
Spoiler alert: Even after things go south for the young couple, they both realize that “even when I didn’t like you, I loved you,” and they were meant to battle life’s challenges together as a team, sometimes compromising. And maybe because of their differences, they complement each other perfectly. So you see, in the end, love conquers all.
“Although by today's media-frenzied standards, plays such as Barefoot in the Park may feel like the pilot episode of a slow-paced sitcom; yet there is still a lot to love about his work,” Wade Bradford said in his 2020 article for ThoughtCo. “When it was written, the play was a comedic look at a modern young couple who learn to live together. Now, enough time has gone by, enough changes in our culture and relationships have occurred, that Barefoot feels like a time capsule, a glimpse into a nostalgic past when the worst thing couples could argue about is a broken skylight, and all conflicts could be resolved simply by making a fool of oneself.”
And that is exactly what the TBT brings to their audience, a crowd-pleaser with a bit of comedy, a bit of drama, a bit of nostalgia – definitely worth seeing.
“Barefoot in the Park” is presented by arrangement with Concord Theatricals on behalf of Samuel French, Inc. http://www.concordtheatricals.com.
Photos by SIMONE WICHERS-VOSS
©2023 Southern Cross Creative, LLP. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.