Publisher: Elizabeth Hurd / Managing Director: Adrienne Proctor / Editor: Jillian Pritchard Ball

“Barefoot in the Park” is a Big Hit for Jewel Box Theatre

David Fletcher-Hall as Victor Valasco tempts Lilli Bassett as the mother of the bride with delectable oddities as Korri Worner playing bride Corie Bratter looks on. Photo courtesy of David Fletcher-Hall, by Jim Beckel

Jewel Box Theatre kicks off the New Year with “Barefoot in the Park” one of Neil Simon’s most amusing romantic comedies.  Set in New York City in 1967, “Barefoot in the Park” tells the story of a young spontaneous and vivacious bride moving into her first apartment as a married woman.  Her husband is a bright lawyer, attempting to develop the persona of a serious young man.  The couple has only been Mr. and Mrs. Paul Bratter for six days, but the honeymoon is over and they must settle down to everyday life.  The newlyweds are quite suited to one another largely because of their balance.  She is mad-cap, he is iron-clad, and these are the differences that can make a great marriage, once the differences are faced and accommodations and compromises are made.  Those adjustments are the story of “Barefoot in the Park” under the expert direction of Wil Rogers.

Rogers is a well-known actor and director in Oklahoma City. His concept for “Barefoot in the Park” is ideal, using Korri Werner as Corie Bratter, and Paxton Kliewer as Paul Bratter.  These two play the young lovers realistically and excitingly. They both have excellent timing and take advantage of their natural chemistry.  Lilli Bassett portrays Corie Bratter’s loving mother hilariously and David Fletcher-Hall is superbly funny as upstairs neighbor and outlandish character, Victor Valasco.  Bassett and Fletcher-Hall have perfect comedic sensibilities bringing the most humor to their dialogue.  Bassett has a beautifully elastic face and her expressions are wonderfully funny.  Fletcher-Hall is subtle; the slightest lift of an eyebrow or curl of the lip reveals an inner delight in life and humor.  The audience dissolves.  The cast is riotously intensified with the cameo roles of Mark Ingham as the Telephone Repair Man and Taylor Reich as the Delivery Man.  These two also make the most of their time on the stage with memorable performances.

“Barefoot in the Park” is light-hearted, and Rogers must have found his cast easy to work with.  It can be an awesome responsibility to do justice to the reigning king of playwrights in this genre, and Rogers measures up with profound grace.  Giving actors a great deal of leeway to present the best performances possible is the key and Wil Rogers has that key.  The two short acts in “Barefoot in the Park” make this directorial debut for Rogers an excellent success for Jewel Box Theatre and their audience.

Technically the play is smooth with a competent crew responsible.  Carol McDonald Walley stage manages with unflappable ease, as Josie Walley and Mariah Warren carry out the scene changes.  Sheila Sewell organizes the properties and Emily Herrera the costumes.  Richard Howells builds a lovely set. Scott Hynes is an expert at lighting design and Amandanell Bold is equally skilled with sound design.  The overall result creates a perfect example of excellent community theatre. 

Performances are 8:00 pm Thursday through Saturday and 2:30 for Sunday’s matinee. “Barefoot in the Park” plays January 24, through February 17, 2019.  The address is 3700 N. Walker Avenue and tickets are available at the box office, 405-521-1786 open Tuesday through Friday afternoon.