Reviews

Review: ‘Barefoot in the Park’ is iconic crowd-pleaser – Littleton Independent

Barefoot in the Park - Town Hall Arts Center

by Sonya Ellingboe (Littleton Independent)

Lights go up on an empty apartment in an old brownstone on East 48th Street in New York City. It’s February 1963. Only the kitchen is furnished. A restless young woman enters and stuffs things into the refrigerator as she tidies up a bit. Suitcases are in the room. We meet Corie Bratter (Lynzee Jones), the somewhat ditzy resident newlywed, who has rented this chilly fifth-floor space for herself and new husband, Paul (Tim Howard), an already-a-bit-stuffy lawyer.

She awaits Bloomingdales’ furniture delivery — and the next years of her life…

The audience settles in for “Barefoot in the Park,” a favorite comedy by American playwright Neil Simon (1927-2018). Many theater companies across the nation are honoring the late, always-popular Simon this season, with performances of his works — more than 30 plays, plus as many television scripts.

Stomping and puffing is heard. It’s the telephone repairman (Giovanni Roselli), here to hook them up and assign a phone number. Imagine! Her own number …

A winded Paul appears next — those stairs are an ongoing issue. Each character’s response is different.

The phone guy leaves and a brief lovey-dovey interlude is followed by arguing. He wants to work. She wants to play … More steps on the stairs announce the arrival of Corie’s mother (the always-entertaining Annie Dwyer).

Amusing Neil Simon-crafted conversation continues and eventually the quirky upstairs neighbor Victor Velasco (Tom Mullin) appears to add another voice and color to the scene. They decide to head to Staten Island for dinner, where something with flaming brandy is said to be on the menu … They return full of Greek wine and still talking, talking …

Director Bob Wells, a comic himself, has shaped this popular Simon work into an entertaining evening for audiences at Littleton’s Town Hall Arts Center, and it runs through March 22. Wells’ directors’ notes say it opened in October 1963 and played 1,530 performances, until June 1967 — and it’s been a steady favorite since. “In 1963, Simon became the only living playwright to have a New York City theater named after him, when the Alvin Theatre on Broadway was named The Neil Simon Theatre,” Wells continues.

Wells also added a quote from comedic actor Nathan Lane; “Neil often said … he was writing dramas with comic moments in them. The most important thing with his material was to always play it as you would a serious play and allow Neil to do his work.”

Review: Barefoot in the Park – Boulder Magazine

by Beki Pineda (Boulder Magazine)

Written by Neil Simon; Directed by Robert Wells.

All of you must remember the young and beautiful Jane Fonda and Robert Redford who brought this charming story to the public’s attention in 1967, one of their five movies together. Or maybe some of you were lucky enough to see Redford and Elizabeth Ashley in the original 1963 Broadway production. Regardless whenever you see a Neil Simon play on the callboard, you know you are in for a treat. His ability to put both heartfelt dialogue and snappy zingers together in the same speech never fails to delight. In this particular script, he takes the tiniest bit of plot and wraps it in charming whimsy.

Town Hall put together a winning cast for this revival. The young newlyweds are played to local favorites Tim Howard and Lynzee Jones. Lynzee’s elfin Corie has a slightly manic energy that plays sweetly against Tim’s more conservative and laid back Paul. As in most marital discord, their expectations of each other are slightly unreasonable and, foregoing stubborn pride, could be resolved easily. But nothing makes for more fun on stage than a comic argument.

They are joined by everybody’s favorite couple – Annie Dwyer as Corie’s highly dubious and sensitive mother Ethel and TJ Mullin as Victor Velasco, the Bohemian upstairs neighbor. After appearing together on stage together for thirty years, one is the hand, the other is the glove. They just fit together, complementing each other’s authenticity and totally in sync. The celebration they bring to a meeting of opposites that find delight in an older romance warms  your heart. The connection they brought to Herr Schultz and Frau Schneider together in CABARET, a recent show at Town Hall, is echoed in the gentle wooing of Victor and Ethel.

A newcomer to Town Hall, the fifth character in this group is the out-of-breath Telephone Repair Man. Giovanni Roselli makes the most of a small part with his authenticity and genuine concern for this young couple in the middle of their argument. Stagehand Greg Kendall makes a surprise appearance as a package delivery guy. EVERYONE has difficulty with the five flights of stairs it takes to get to their loft.

The charming New York apartment they move into was designed by Michael Duran, built by Mike Haas and his crew, dressed by Rob Costigan and Bob Bauer, with lights provided by Kate Bashore and street sounds and door bells provided by Curt Behm. Special kudos must go to the run crew who, in the fifteen minute intermission, convert an empty flat into a charming nest with time to spare. Also congrats to the person on the crew who rigged the snow drop so that it falls on Paul’s head as he sleeps on the sofa night after night.

A WOW factor of 8!!

Review: Fairy tale characters take stage in show not for kids – Littleton Independent

by Sonya Ellingboe (Littleton Independent)

Fairy tale princesses have long been part and parcel of our literary and social fabric, as they were created from ancient folk tales — and have more recently evolved through Disney films and now, via “Disenchanted,” an off-Broadway hit, which shifts them into feminist folk!

The composer/playwright is Dennis T. Giacino, who developed this new musical with off-Broadway director Fiely Matias, perhaps stepping on some toes along the way …

As lights go up at Town Hall Arts Center in Littleton, where “Disenchanted,” directed and choreographed by the multi-talented Nick Sugar, plays through Feb. 9, we meet Snow White (Abby McInerny), who translates as a leadership star; Cinderella (Lindsay Fuller) and Sleeping Beauty (LuAnn Buckstein) belting a strong “One More Happ’ly Ever After.”

Also featured: Belle, the Beauty who was in love with that Beast — she comes onstage in a straitjacket, crazed by all the strange things she’s encountered — moving plates and saucers and talking furniture, for example. (Jona Alonzo, who also plays the Little Mermaid, is Belle).

The Little Mermaid wants to be back at sea …

From Chinese lore, we meet a different sort of Hua Mulan — and from American legend, a militant Pocahontas (racist commentary?). From the Arabian Nights comes Aladdin’s magic Princess Badroubaldor (all are played by Faith Siobahn Ford).

The Princess Who Kissed the Frog (Anna High) comes via those Brothers Grimm. It’s good to see a black princess here — another swipe at the standard Disney lineup …

All bring issues to the fore — which is probably not how we remember them from story time at the library, school room, the Saturday movies — or at home!

The set consists of the lighted outline of a palace-ish sort of place, with curtained arches. Works well, enhanced by lighting and sound.

But these tales are meant for adult audiences and the language gets a bit raw — so leave those little people at home this time, despite the fairy tale theme. Disney fare, it is not!

A live band sits up to the right, led by Music Director Donna Kolpan Debreceni on keyboards, Sean Case, percussion and Scott Alan Smith, bass — a truly fine addition when budget allows … It really adds to the overall pleasure of live theater in a way that recorded music does not.

This material doesn’t have the overall depth and strength of some of our longtime favorite musicals, so the breadth of the message carries less of a wow factor, but it is sassy and fun — and the performers bring voices and style as they play at being feisty princesses …

We felt that they were happy ever after — or at least on that night!