Welcome to '60s Laugh & Laughter in Waukesha Civic's 'Barefoot in the Park'
A tiny New York City apartment, a newlywed couple and a host of crazy neighbors complete the recipe for comedy in this long-time favorite by Neil Simon, first performed in 1963. Apart from the occasional comment or reference, Simon’s script holds up to the 54 years it weathered, containing enough one-two punches to leave an audience stunned, then rolling with laughter, in the hands of the right actors. Waukesha Civic Theatre’s production boasts a well-rounded and balanced cast, quick and lively, that hit their stride in the second act, capturing the speed and wit of the dialogue.
When Corie (Katie Lynne Krueger) and Paul (Benjamin Johnson) move into their new apartment after a six-day honeymoon, Corie is determined to infuse the same level of romance into their fifth-floor walkup—a detail that gets a lot of stage time, and gets funnier with age. Her beloved, practical Paul is less than thrilled with the lack of bathtub, hole in the skylight, and their flirtatious upstairs neighbor, Victor Velasco (Rick Richter). Corie’s love of spontaneity sends the couple on a wild evening adventure with the goal of a love connection for her widowed mother, and the potential for unresolvable differences between the young lovers.
Costumes and scenic elements, designed by Darcy Devins and Michael Talaska, respectively, do an admirable job of enhancing the storytelling, despite an unfortunate wig that dulls Krueger’s natural charm. During intermission, the stage transforms remarkably, believably underscoring shocked and impressed comments from Corie’s mother about her daughter’s decorating skill.
Donna L. Lobacz delivers a standout performance as Corie’s mother and self-professed ordinary housewife. She deftly navigates the physical comedy of her character, providing many of the play’s largest laughs. Richter as Velasco and Lloyd Munsen as the Telephone Man find warmth and sincerity in their characters, infusing a sense of love and care, which contributes greatly to the success of the production.
Through June 18 at Waukesha Civic Theatre, 264 W. Main Street, Waukesha. For tickets, call 262-547-0708 or visit waukeshacivictheatre.org.