The opening show of Attleboro Community Theatre's 56th season is Neil Simon's 1963 Tony Award winning comedy, "Barefoot in the Park". The show takes place in the early 1960's and is about newlyweds Paul and Corie Bratter, he is a brand new lawyer who just won his first case for six cents and she is a hopeless romantic who has leased this high rent apartment. After six days of wedded bliss at the Plaza, they move into an apartment on the sixth floor of an old brownstone which is full of weird neighbors, on East 48th Street in New York City. They have to continually climb up six wheezing flights of stairs to get there and they also have no furniture. There is no room for a double bed, the sky light leaks, there is no heat and it's in February and their bohemian neighbor is only able to access his padlocked attic apartment via their window ledge. When Paul fails to grasp the romance of their quirky living situation, Corie begins to think her husband is a stuffed shirt especially when he refused to take a walk with her barefoot in the snow in a nearby park. Director Billy Castro creates a wonderful 1960's atmosphere for this show with his light green walls for the set designed by Kevin Boisse and the music of the period. His expertise of comic direction and the talent of his cast wins them a standing ovation at curtain call.
The leading players in this show are played by real life boyfriend and girlfriend, Jason Arundale and Katherine Coolidge. She is a pretty strawberry blonde who plays this free spirited girl who is madly in love with her husband excellently. Corie wants to talk to him constantly at first. Katherine runs the gamut of emotions in this role, going from hysterical to angry to sad and back again. The goulash eating scene is hilarious and when Corie pretends to be talking to a mystery man on the phone. Paul discovers it is someone offering her Bosanova lessons. Her drunken scene is a hoot, too. Katherine is onstage almost the whole show, doing an amazing job with her huge amounts of dialogue. She is very exuberant in this role. Jason handles the leading man role of Paul Bratter wonderfully. Paul is shocked at the appearance of the apartment but tries to spare Corie's feelings, however later on after all the craziness he explodes into some topnotch argument scenes with his wife. Jason's packing scene with putting all his clothes especially his underwear briefs into the suitcase is very funny as is the final scene when he returns to the apartment drunk after having walked barefoot in the park. Another laugh out loud moment is when he sings "Shama, Shama" which is Jimmy Crack Corn in Greek. Their real life dating spills over into their portrayals, giving the show a realistic feel to it.
Anita Lawlor as Corie's mother, Ethel Banks is very funny whether she is climbing up six flights of stairs, delivering her comic one liners or popping pink pills so she won't vomit the exotic gourmet food from the Albanian restaurant on Staten Island. Anita's funniest scene is when she runs back into the apartment after being out all night long, wearing a man's kimono and slippers and not remembering what happened. Victor Velasco, the crazy upstairs neighbor is excellently played by W. Grant Willis. His explanation of the exotic food for the party scene is very funny as he pops the food in his mouth after tossing it back and forth in his hand. Grant handles this womanizing man and his wacky antics wonderfully. Victor tells Corie to flush up the plumbing in the building is backwards. Rounding out the cast is Billy as Harry the telephone repairman who wheezes up the stairs in Act 1 and 3. He listens to the couple bickering back and forth in the last scene and has funny lines about the beer in the refrigerator. John Kelly is hilarious as he plays the out of breath Lord and Taylor delivery man in the first act. So for a phenomenally enjoyable evening of a Neil Simon comedy, be sure to catch "Barefoot in the Park" in Attleboro. Tell them Tony sent you