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Tantallon Community Players Barefoot in the Park

By • Mar 1st, 2011 • Category: Reviews
Barefoot in the Park by Neil Simon
Tantallon Community Players
Harmony Hall Regional Center, Ft. Washington, MD
Through March 13th
2:25 with one intermission, one pause
$15/@12 Seniors and Students
Reviewed February 25th, 2011

Tantallon Community Players has created an entertaining production of Neil Simon’s Barefoot in The Park. The show featured a group of actors who seemed comfortable on stage as well as with each other, and an attractive set. Despite some minor opening night line issues and insanely loud pre-show and intermission music, the actors clearly could be seen giving 100% to each other and the audience.

Barefoot in The Park is the tale of newlyweds Paul and Corie Bratter, who are moving into a new apartment after their six-day honeymoon. When the couple has their first fight, it seems that opposites don’t attract, as carefree Corey is frustrated with her husband’s bland, uptight personality. Corie Bratter as the young, energetic newlywed who had stars in her eyes that may have caused her to hit reality a little hard was played by Coreen Ayr Hamilton. Hamilton had great charisma that never seemed to go out, not even when her husband was balancing on the ledge outside their window. Hamilton had fun experiencing life to the fullest and did so with lots of big gestures and over-acting that actually fit the character. She also possessed a serious side that came out when she thought her two-week marriage was lying in the snow five flights down. However her love did not die.

Her love was tested for sure late in the show as Paul played by Billy Nemi took her emotional outbursts seriously, yet it was obvious that he still loved her as he showed his concern for her mother. Although appearing perhaps a bit young for the part, Nemi made the relationship work. Always the cautious “watcher” to quote a line from the play, Nemi was the straight man trying to keep up with free-spirited Corie. But when Paul finally lets himself go, look out. His third act antics were comical. And his interactions with Corie’s mother were wonderful, almost as if she were his mother instead.

The mysterious upstairs neighbor Mr. Velasco was played by Lance Adell. Adell came across as a likable fellow who held many secrets. He seemed to gravitate to the quirky Corie as one who enjoyed life and knew how to embrace it. However his taste did not stop with just young women, but also the more, shall we say, “seasoned” female population. One such person was Corie’s mother Mrs. Ethel Banks played by Lauren Bloom. As equally uptight as Paul, Mrs. Banks was clearly set in her ways. How she kept Corie corralled until she got married is a mystery and probably led to Mrs. Banks’ nervous stomach condition as she tried to keep up with her daughter. Bloom had the eye rolling down pat.

To finally wrap up the ensemble cast was the Telephone Repairman, played by Dave Bayles. Bayles did a great routine of coming up the stairs as did all the cast (except Corie who did not seem phased as was true to her character). His comedic timing was fun to be a part of, as was Paul and Mrs. Banks when they came home after an evening of fun with the mysterious Mr. Velasco.

Now Jamie Todd Hamilton’s set can be mentioned. The first act opened with the furniture the new apartment not yet having arrived. The ladder and paint cans strewn about made the place look very sparse and uninviting. Yet in the second act when all the furniture arrived the place became much homier and although the apartment was supposed to be tiny, the efficient use of space in the design made the room feel huge. Would the play have worked as well with a slighlty more cramped feel to the room? Watching Corie dash back and forth in the opening scene was exhausting. This was addressed by putting in doors to the sides to represent the closet, tiny bedroom and bathroom. The costumes by Designer Libby Dasbach were true to the period of the ’60’s.

In sum, Tantallon’s production of Barefoot in the Park was entertaining. If you haven’t experienced it before, check it out while you can.

Director’s Notes

This play has been following me. We both made our debut the same year,1963. We went o college together, we made our post college debut together and when I went back to high school as a teacher, there she was, barefoot again. Now, as I re-define myself here in Fort Washington, I find that I am once again in familiar company.

The first time I worked on Barefoot was in college. The play, selected by the student run theater organization, had one very loud vote against it; mine. It wasn’t that I didn’t like Neal Simon (I grew up watching The Odd Couple), I just thought we could do something edgier, controversial, I mean, we were, after all, a college theater. I lost that vote along with many others over the years, and enjoyed the heck out of the experience despite myself.

A few years after leaving school I became the artistic director of the Western Door Playhouse in Lewiston, New York. Not surprisingly the second show on the list that season, was Barefoot. I chose a great cast and we set out to make a name for ourselves. One of the reviewers of the show, someone who has since become a friend, started off the review like this, “If you can’t say anything nice about a show, talk about the set. The set for Barefoot….” His disappointment was not with me or the actors, he just hated Simon for the aforementioned reasons: no teeth, no bravery, etc. I thought the show was perfect, and the set was wonderful. Last year the high school that I taught at produced Barefoot as the Spring show. I sat in on rehearsals and talked a lot with the director; himself a former Paul. it was during that time that I began to understand the plays importance. It is simplicity itself: if we want to get along with each other better, we need to give up some of ourselves to receive the rewards of harmony. Liberals and Conservatives, Cories and Pauls, bend a little and meet in the middle. We should be able to laugh a little at our differences so that we don’t end up taking little things too seriously.

So, this play has been following me for a long time, nudging me, asking me to pay attention to it. And now I’ve got the bittersweet job of directing it again. Why bittersweet? During the performance of our show you will notice that Corie is a beautiful energetic young woman, she is also my daughter. I cannot express how proud I am of her and her growth as an actor. I come to learn through this how, as Ethel has, that my little girl is an adult now. It’s painful to watch her make her own mistakes, but also rewarding to see her rebound with so much bravery. The cast and crew of this show are wonderful and perfect, but to me Corie turned out to be a little more perfect than I expected. Thank you all, with much love

Jamie Todd Hamilton

Cast

  • Corie Bratter: Coreen Ayr Hamilton
  • Telephone Repairman: Dave Bayles
  • Paul Bratter: Billy Nemi
  • Corie’s mother, Mrs. Banks: Lauren Bloom
  • Victor Velasco: Lance Adell

Crew

  • Director: Jamie Todd Hamilton
  • Producer: Leslie Lucense
  • Stage Manager: Amiee Bonnet
  • Set Design: Jamie Todd Hamilton
  • Costume Design: Libby Dasbach
  • Hair and Makeup: Cast
  • Special Effects: Jamie Hamilton, Mark Holt
  • Light Design: Sheryl Frye
  • Sound Design: Jamie Todd Hamilton
  • Sound and Light Operators: Harmony Hall Staff
  • Set Construction: Mark Holt, George Roff, Larry Carbaugh, John Lucense, Jerry Caputo, Jamie Todd Hamilton
  • Set Painting and Dressing: Marilyn Weaver, Larry Carbaugh
  • Properties: Charla Rowe, Ron Rowe
  • Publicity: Jivon Jackson, Leslie Lucense, Valerie Holt, Johnny Dorshefski
  • Program: Larry Carbaugh

Disclaimer: Tantallon Community Players provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review.

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started ShowBizRadio in August 2005 because they love live theater. They each have both performed in and worked behind the scenes in DC area productions, as well as earned a Career Studies Certificate in Theater from Northern Virginia Community College. Mike & Laura are each members of the American Theatre Critics Association, and Mike is a member of the Online News Association.

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