After a six-month hiatus due to COVID-19, the Gilbert Theater is back in action with “Barefoot in the Park,” a Neil Simon classic. “Barefoot in the Park” runs through Oct. 18 with limited seating and social distancing in effect due to COVID-19 guidelines for public gatherings.
“Barefoot in the Park” first premiered on Broadway in 1963 and went on to have a successful movie adaptation with countless stage performances around the country since. Seeing it now — in the year of pandemics, riots and election ads — is a breath of fresh air and a simple reminder that a little bit of laughter is often just what you need.
After a six-day honeymoon, Corie and Paul start their married life in their fifth-floor-walkup in New York City. The tiny apartment leaves something to be desired, but Corie sees the possibilities. Paul sees the lack of a tub and a hole in the skylight.
The newlyweds differ in their attitudes toward these inconveniences with Corie being the fun-loving free spirit wearing her heart on her sleeve. Paul, a new lawyer, has a more business-like approach and is not spontaneous as his wife, who is always willing to, as they say, walk barefoot in the park.
Director Lawrence Carlisle III brings together a terrific cast and crew to deliver an entertaining escape from our own troubles in 2020. If only we could go back to when a gal could still get excited about getting a new Princess phone. In the meantime, “Barefoot in the Park” is a fun two hours to enjoy live theater.
The “Barefoot in the Park” cast includes Tanisha Johnson and Gage Long as newlyweds Corie and Paul; Deannah Robinson as Mother Banks, Corie’s mom; Gabe Terry as neighbor Mr. Velasco; and James Merkle as the telephone repairman.
It is a small cast of solid performances, each engaging and interesting. Johnson is full of energy and delivers a fun, believable and adorable Corie. I wanted everything to work out for her character and I look forward to seeing Johnson at the Gilbert in future shows.
Long holds his own because his portrayal of Paul and is as much measured with patience as Johnson’s is uninhibited. Long and Johnson make a good pair on stage and their performances remind me that love and relationships are often about how our differences make us stronger rather than tear us apart.
Robinson is convincing in her supporting role of Mother Banks. One of my favorite Gilbert regulars, Robinson always delivers and is a great addition to the cast.
Terry and Merkle deliver fine performances as quirky neighbor Mr. Velasco and the telephone repairman. Both bring levity to the story and the ensemble.
Safety precautions in place include masks for theater attendants, hand sanitizer stations, no-contact concessions, temperature checks upon entry and cleaning between performances. There will also be two performances on Saturday, Oct. 10 at 2 and 8 p.m. in which the actors will wear masks.
The Gilbert Theater is located at 116 Green St. Contact the box office for more info on the show or to purchase tickets at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pictured: The cast of "Barefoot in the Park" take a break during a recent dress rehearsal. The play runs through Oct. 18 at the Gilbert Theater. Photo by Jonathan Hornby Productions.