My first introduction to Barefoot in the Park was in college when I watched the film starring Jane Fonda and Robert Redford. I fell in love with the charming film, and when the Broadway revival opened in 2006, I made my way up to the city to see it. The comedy, set in New York City circa mid-1960s, is about newlyweds---Corie is a fun-loving young housewife and Paul is a practical lawyer. After spending a six-day honeymoon at the famed New York Plaza Hotel, they have now moved into their studio apartment, which happens to be on the sixth floor of a building without an elevator. During the course of the play, we meet Corie's proper but doting mother Ethel and the couple's eccentric neighbor Victor, who Corie befriends.
The eternal optimist, Corie decides to host a small party in hopes of setting up her widowed mother with Victor. The night culminates with the foursome dining in an exotic restaurant in Staten Island, a fight between the newlyweds, and Ethel never making it home to New Jersey. I'm not going to reveal the ending, but I'll give you a hint---it's a Neil Simon comedy.
Natalie Gaspari shines as the lovable Corie, as does Jack Jordan in the role of Victor. Both characters, along with another famous theater character-Auntie Mame-have been my heroes with their philosophies of "Live, enjoy life, and experience everything!" Shawn Kline gives a fantastic performance as Paul, a person who finds walking "barefoot in the park" a ridiculous act. Catherine Ireland as Ethel steals every scene she's in! I also must give a shout out to Mark Ladd, who delivered some very funny lines as the telephone repairman, who has to climb up the six flights of steps to install the couple's new line.
Overall, Barefoot in the Park is not a groundbreaking piece and it won't change your life, but it will entertain you. It fits in perfectly with the current cultural resurgence of the 1960s---think Mad Men, Pan-Am, and The Playboy Club. They all recall a time when America was innocent and flirty; maybe a time we need to relive now more than ever?