Adam Barnes wasn’t that familiar with “Barefoot in the Park,” but he does consider himself a big Neil Simon fan.
“I didn’t know that much about this one, but I did do his show ‘Rumors’ when I was in high school, and I had a great time doing that,” said Barnes, who will play Paul Bratter in Simon’s 1963 Broadway smash “Barefoot in the Park” at the Colonial Little Theatre opening Friday and running through June 10.
“ ‘Rumors’ was a great show, very well-written, so when I heard that Colonial [Little] Theatre was doing another Simon play, I decided to try out for it.”
Simon’s 1963 Broadway effort earned him three Tony nominations and became the eighth longest-running non-musical play ever at that time. It opened in October of 1963 and closed in June of 1967 after 1,530 performances, a personal best for Simon. Robert Redford played Paul on the Broadway stage and then reprised his role for the 1967 Hollywood movie. Michele Cassaro Genovesi will play opposite Barnes as his young wife, Corie, who was played by Elizabeth Ashley on stage and Jane Fonda in the movie.
‘Barefoot in the Park’
WHERE: Colonial Little Theatre, 1 Colonial Court, Johnstown
WHEN: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday, through June 10
HOW MUCH: $12
MORE INFO: 762-4325 or www.coloniallittletheatre.blogspot.com
“I am loving every minute of this experience,” said Barnes, a 2010 graduate of Fort Plain High School and a 2012 graduate of Fulton-Montgomery Community College. “It’s a great cast and a wonderful group of people I’m working with.”
John Birchler is directing the production, and he’s also the person who submitted the play to be on Colonial’s 2012 summer season.
“It’s Neil Simon and ‘Barefoot in the Park’ — what’s not to like,” said Birchler. “It’s just a real nice, funny piece. It’s real early Neil Simon, but it’s a good example of the kinds of things that he’s good at. Comedies are comedies, but beneath the laughs there is this pain that creates all these funny situations. In the midst of all that, Simon is great with relationships, and you have all these wonderful one-liners that he is famous for.”
Paul and Corie Bratter are newlyweds who have recently moved into an apartment on the top floor of a Brownstone in New York City. The play covers their first four days in the apartment as they discover how best to live with each other. Although they are deeply enamored with each other, Corie is something of a free spirit, while Paul is much more conservative.
The title of the play comes from a line by Corie, who insists that her stressed-out husband should relax and go “Barefoot in the Park.” The play was Simon’s first big success on Broadway, and he followed it up with an even bigger smash in 1965 with “The Odd Couple.”
Barnes recently performed in “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” at FMCC earlier this spring, and was in the Colonial Little Theatre production of “The Mousetrap” in the fall and “Hairspray” last summer. He began acting back in the eighth grade as part of the combined school program at Fort Plain and Canajoharie.
“I saw my older brother Shawn in a few plays, and I could tell it was such a good experience for him,” said Barnes. “He enjoyed it so much I decided I wanted to be part of something like it.
Rest of cast
Also in the cast with Barnes and Genovesi are William Sanderson as the telephone repairman, Leta Aldous as Ethel Banks, Paul’s mother-in-law, Steve Leifer as Victor Velasco and Birchler as the delivery man.
“Adam just gave a real good reading at the audition, and I’ve seen Michele in a number of other productions, in particular with the Schenectady Civic Players, where she’s done a great job,” said Birchler, discussing his two leads.