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Newlyweds clash in famed Simon work

Barefoot in the Park is one of Teatro La Quindicina’s summer season productions

By: Anna Borowiecki

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Jul 09, 2014 06:00 am

WEDDING VOWS – Rachel Bowron, St. Albert Children's Theatre music director and Ryan Parker play the lead roles in Neil Simon's Barefoot in the Park.
WEDDING VOWS – Rachel Bowron, St. Albert Children's Theatre music director and Ryan Parker play the lead roles in Neil Simon's Barefoot in the Park.
ANDREW MACDONALD-SMITH/Supplied photo

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Preview

Barefoot in the Park
Teatro La Quindicina
July 10 to 26
Varscona Theatre
10329 - 83 Ave.
Tickets: $25 to $30, Saturday matinees $16 and Tuesday evening pay-what-you-can. Call 780-433-3399, 780-420-1757 or purchase online at tixonthesquare.ca

It’s Sunday morning and it’s Rachel Bowron’s one day off. However, the young actress is meeting Ryan Parker at the Varscona Theatre to run lines for Barefoot in the Park.

The pair just moved on set, and they want to practice the blocking before the next full day of rehearsal.

“There’s stairs and door slamming. It’s one of those fantastic comedies,” laughed Bowron during a quick telephone interview.

Barefoot in the Park is one of Teatro La Quindicina’s summer season productions, a revisit to the fun and innocence of the ’60s. It opens July 10 for a two-week run at the Varscona Theatre.

“I don’t think Barefoot in the Park has been done by a local professional company in recent years,” says Teatro artistic director Stewart Lemoine.

Teatro last mounted a Neil Simon comedy in the 2002 all-star production of The Odd Couple co-presented with Shadow Theatre.

The original Broadway production starring Robert Redford and Elizabeth Ashley was a huge hit. It ran for over four years notching more than 1,530 performances.

Back in the ’60s and ’70s, Simon was King of Broadway, producing a prolific catalogue of plays that were laid-back, laugh-out-loud, witty and rather touching.

Barefoot in the Park is an ode to his wife Joan about their early years as a young couple, and it pokes fun at the silly arguments that happen.

The three-act production follows the lives of newlyweds Paul (Ryan Parker) and Corie Bratter (Rachel Bowron) as they adapt to married life. This is the ’60s and couples tended to live together after the marriage vows were spoken.

Paul is a buttoned-down, straight-arrow lawyer who has just been assigned his first case and he’s eager to do a good job. Corie instead is an effervescent, free-spirit focused on romantic bliss and being a good housewife.

The young couple lives on the top floor of a building that has a hole in the skylight. Aside from dealing with day-to-day emergencies, there is Victor Velasco (Jeff Haslam), a quirky, larger-than-life neighbour who constantly passes through.

The New Jersey based Mrs. Banks (Davina Stewart), Corie’s mother and a woman of restrained emotions, also pops by for visits. Living a life of romantic bliss, Corie hatches a plot to get her mother on a date with Victor.

And Andrew MacDonald Smith, who just won a Sterling Award for his role as Bert in Mary Poppins, reprises a similar role as a wisecracking telephone repairman.

Bowron, St. Albert Children’s Theatre music director, and Parker have performed together in two Teatro productions – Eros and the Itchy Ant as well as Angels on Horseback.

Their ongoing stage chemistry makes them a perfect pairing, and Lemoine takes a shot at describing their instinctive affinity.

“It’s natural and easy. They are interested in listening to each other and respecting each other.”

Bowron also relates to Corie’s exuberance and romantic nature. They have more than a few similarities in their personalities.

“I’m stubborn. She’s stubborn. She’s passionate, full of life, positive and optimistic and those are things I relate to,” Bowron said.

As for Parker’s Paul, she said, “He’s the responsible one of the two. He’s reserved, but with a twinkle in his eyes.”

The language as Simon wrote is witty and full of banter, yet to some it may be dated. Lemoine has no trouble working with a period piece.

“It’s a well structured comedy and it plays out in a natural way. I like the structure and the tone. It’s OK to be dated. To make it work, it has to seem natural. And it’s always interesting to see where we’ve come from where we were.”


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