Stained Glass Playhouse presents Neil Simon’s ‘Barefoot in the Park’
By: Jasmyn Brunson
Want to try something different and romantic this Valentine’s Day weekend but don’t know what to do? Head down to Stained Glass Playhouse, located at 4401 Indiana Ave. in Winston Salem to be blown away by their fabulous production of Neil Simon’s “Barefoot in the Park.” When I first heard about this production, I immediately thought of the 1967 movie version directed by Gene Saks.
“Barefoot in the Park” is set in the early ’60s on the top floor of a New York City apartment and follows a young couple Paul and Corie Bratter (played by Chris Swaim and Janea Platt) as they start their lives as a young newlywed couple. Paul Bratter is a conservative lawyer while Corie Bratter has a free-spirited personality and goes with the flow of things. They have only been married a week, but there is already trouble in paradise. After being faced with multiple issues such as a leaky skylight, lack of heat and going up six flights of stairs, they quickly learn that they are not the same and they approach life’s challenges very differently.
The play is actually two love stories mixed into one. In the middle of it all, the couple meets their quirky bohemian neighbor Victor Velasco (played by Gregg Vogelsmeier), who lives in the attic of their apartment complex and are also visited by Corie’s sweet mother, Mrs. Ethel Banks (played by Carol McConnell). Corie decides to play matchmaker and takes all four of them to dinner in New York City where everything takes a turn for the worse.
That night Paul and Corie both start to wonder if they are meant to be together or if their honeymoon phase is over. Paul does not understand Corie’s free spirit, and Corie does not understand why Paul is so conservative and not spontaneous and won’t run “Barefoot in the Park” with her.
This couple is faced with a life choice: will they work through their differences or find love somewhere else? All these lovebirds have plenty to learn, not only about their partner but most importantly themselves, and all the ingredients that go into being in a relationship.
Directed by Steffanie Vaughan and aided by her amazing and very creative team, the production set design and actors was astonishing. How the apartment changed from rundown to new, and how all of the actors were directed made me feel like I was watching the movie version right in front of me. They did not skip a beat they took this play head on and definitely did not disappoint.
All the actors did marvelously, but Donovan Fansler as Telephone Repairman and McConnell as Mrs. Ethel Banks stood out to me. Even though the Telephone Repairman only had a small part, his role in this production was huge. The way he voiced his character completely blew me away with his quirky but very funny accent. Mrs. Ethel Banks also surprised with her “just one of the guys” attitude. She did not disappoint at all; I was also stunned to find out that she was also the set decorator.
The set was simple yet very detailed all the way down to the hole in the skylight of the apartment. The set was beautifully designed with decor and costumes from the 1960s that made you feel like you were stepping back in time.
This was my first time seeing a show at Stained Glass Playhouse, and it definitely will not be my last. This show comes with an amazing message and a loving conclusion. My hat goes off to the creative team behind this breath-taking production. All of their hard work definitely paid off and was well worth it.
This romantic comedy is a must-see for everyone this valentines day you won’t regret taking your partner to see this play!
Hurry up and catch Neil Simon’s “Barefoot in the Park” before it’s too late. The show runs Feb. 15-17 Friday and Saturdays at 8 p.m., Sundays at 3 p.m.
For more information and to buy tickets, visit the Stained Glass Playhouse website.