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By Elizabeth Youngman-Westphal
Special to The Village News 

Camelot is back


Last updated 8/22/2018 at 1:40pm

Jim Cox

Newlyweds Corie (Kerry Bishe) and husband Paul Bratter (Chris Lowell) starring in Neil Simon's "Barefoot in the Park" now playing at the Sheryl and Harvey White Theatre in the round at the Conrad Prebys Theatre Center.

"Barefoot in the Park" is like opening a time capsule. It is the timeless tale of a loving couple settling into married life.

Neil Simon penned it early in his career. He captured the vibrancy of the Camelot era; as the Kennedy's settled into the White House, newlyweds Corie and Paul Bratter moved into their fifth-floor walk-up in Greenwich Village.

"Barefoot" was only Simon's second play, but it brought him his first big success. It was 1963. Some suggest it is reminiscent of Simon's first marriage; regardless, it is a heartwarming journey through the days after the honeymoon as a newly married young couple adjust into the first days of their marriage.

Much of the humor comes from recognizing the journey as Corie and Paul find their way to happy-ever-after in this grown up comedy.

Still wearing the glow from her six-day honeymoon, Corie rushes into her new apartment just in time to meet the telephone installer (Jake Millgard). Millgard is that good-natured telephone repairman with a warm accent placing him on the other side of the G.W.B. (George Washington Bridge).

As a side note: the Princess telephone he installs is the first of its kind. Before that time, the only telephone in America was the standard black rotary table model. After all, it is 1963, and things are changing.

As the exuberant bride Corie, Kerry Bishe personifies the physical awakenings of a newlywed. She radiates love for her lawyer husband, Paul.

Played by Chris Lowell from the tv series "Glow", Lowell is the unfaltering loving spouse. Handsome and steadfast, Lowell's virility is the magnet that holds his new wife's undivided attention.

Adding to the fun is Corie's mother, Mrs. Ethel Banks, played brilliantly by Mia Dillon with great comedic timing. And by the way, it must be said: her talent is greater than the costume selections hoisted upon her.

After all, first lady Jackie Kennedy had set the fashion wearing pill box hats over her beehive hairdo. And, she always wore gloves to match her coat. It was Mrs. Kennedy's panache that was mimicked across America and especially in the fashion capital of America, New York City.

That is why Ms. Dillon's wig and ratty fur coat both belong in the rubbish bin and not on this actress of quality. No doubt there are many fine mink coats to borrow amongst the stylish patrons of the Old Globe.

Playing the upstairs neighbor, Victor Velasco is veteran actor Jere Burns. Eccentric and charming, he too is dressed a la Goodwill. Why? Fortunately Burns has the talent to rise above his attire as the handsome and appealing bon vivant that lures Mrs. Banks into his lair.

With the theatre being a visual art, my question is how can The Old Globe maintain its appeal if the invited actors are dressed in tatters?

The director, Ms. Stone should have paid more attention. The clothes were very distracting from the performance, except for Lowell's suit which no doubt was his own. And both wigs were tired. In this case, it would seem the actress's hair would be more appropriate.

Jim Cox

Enjoying predinner cocktails Victor Velasco (Jere Burns) is introduced to Mrs. Banks (Mia Dillon) as Paul (Chris Lowell) and Corie (Kerry Bishe) look on.

The acting was excellent as even the delivery guy, John Garcia, helped the story flow to a happy conclusion.

The sound by Lindsey Jones and the lighting by Amanda Zieve are two things one expects to be excellent for a show of this kind and both were exemplary. But it is the scenic designer that steals the show. Tobin Ost creates on stage magic with a yellow zinnia wand. His imagination and creativity are mind blowing.

"Barefoot in the Park" by Neil Simon has been held over until Sept. 16 at the Sheryl and Harvey White Theatre in The Old Globe complex in the heart of Balboa Park. Parking is always free but come early to find it unless you get the prepaid valet parking from the website.

Box office: (619) 234-5623 or for tickets. Rated 9.25 out of 10.

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