In their new apartment at the center of New York City’s Greenwich Village circa 1960, newlyweds Corie and Paul have to make room for their double bed, a nosy mother-in-law, a colorful collage of neighbors and, oh yes, love. Neil Simon’s “Barefoot in the Park,” starring Jordin Bradley as Corie and Michael Rexroat as Paul, is a refreshing look into the lives of a young couple attempting to learn how to live together physically and mentally. The pair are polar opposites: bubbly and carefree Corie, and by-the-book, tie-wearing Paul. It makes you wonder how they ever fell in love.
Director Andrew Golla says “Barefoot” charmingly shows us how “we create these images of ourselves that we sometimes hold on to too tightly. Holding on to these self-images often gets in the way of connecting with other people or, as in the case of this play about two newlyweds, sharing our lives with other people. It can be hard to let go of who we think we should be so that we can be what others need us to be.”
But that’s only the start of the newlyweds’ problems. In Corie and Paul’s fifth-floor walk-up, everything that could go wrong does go wrong: the furniture isn’t delivered on time, there’s a hole in the skylight, the stove catches fire and something’s leaking into their closet. To top it all off, budding lawyer Paul has a case in court in the morning. Luckily, Corie’s overbearing mother Edith, played by Amy Billroth-MacLurg, and the couple’s kooky attic neighbor, Victor, played by Jeffrey Phillips, unknowingly aid the couple in navigating the ups and downs of a new marriage.
“Barefoot in the Park” is costume designer Kristen Gates’ Senior Capstone project. Throughout her extensive research, Gates has harnessed the “Mad Men”-esque verve of the show’s 1960s setting.
“The costumes will be made using patterns from the time period as well as fabrics, colors and designs that were popular back then,” Gates said. “There are even a couple of modern pieces because, as my costume design professor Gregory Pulver says, fashion moves in a pendulum - things always come back into style. Like chunky sweaters over legging-like pants!”
Playwright Neil Simon fills “Barefoot in the Park” with snappy comebacks and zippy one-liners that make for fits of laughter enjoyable for all romantics. Bring yourself, your sweetie or your neighbor, as long as you leave room for love within your heart. The University of Portland actors, rounded out by senior Matt Sepeda as the Telephone Man, are so endearing that you cannot help but adore these characters and their shenanigans. The beauty of “Barefoot” is in Simon’s comedy, which speaks to each and every one of us as human beings. You’re sure to leave “Barefoot” reassured that opposites really do attract, after all.
“Barefoot in the Park” runs from October 2-6 in the Mago Hunt Theatre. Some evenings are free to students. Contact the Mago Hunt Box Office (503-943-7287) to reserve seats, or visit the box office in the Mago Hunt lobby from 11am-5pm, Monday through Friday.