Just in time for Valentine’s Day, theater-goers will have the chance to see a classic romantic comedy come to life on stage.
“Barefoot in the Park” runs from Feb. 3 to 19 at the Whidbey Playhouse. The show centers around two young newlyweds with very different personalities who have recently moved into a shabby New York City apartment.
Written by Neil Simon in 1963, the play was his longest running Broadway show and later made into a feature film in 1967.
The Whidbey News-Times’ own Karina Andrew stars as Corie, the optimistic and headstrong female lead. Andrew is acting in her second Playhouse production after appearing as Sandy Dumbrowski in “Grease.”
In the play, Corie and her husband Paul, played by Connor Magnoli, have been married for only six days. Corie is fun-loving and free-spirited while Paul is a practical, sensible lawyer. Hilarity ensues.
“It’s been the funniest show I’ve ever been a part of,” Andrew said. “The biggest struggle has been not laughing.”
While the show is filled with comical discord, it’s ultimately a love story. Andrew said the show is about the couple learning how to be less stubborn and understand and appreciate each other.
Magnoli has acted at the Playhouse once before in “M.A.S.H.” He is active duty military and described himself as “a big theater nerd.”
“I really enjoy the play,” Magnoli said. “I enjoy that the focus is a female lead.”
The play has offered new experiences for both the lead actors. Magnoli pointed out that being part of a small cast means that actors have very little downtime throughout the show. His favorite parts as an actor have been the couple’s fight scenes, or “hardcore yelling arguments,” as he described them.
“It’s a unique experience and it’s a lot of fun, if exhausting,” Magnoli said.
For Andrew, the play represents her first non-musical theater production, which has meant longer scenes with more lines to memorize.
“It’s been cool to delve into that acting side of it,” she said.
Aside from Paul and Corie, there are two other central roles — the couple’s upstairs neighbor and Corie’s mother.
Steve DeHaven plays Mr. Velasco, an eccentric character who lives above Paul and Corie. This is Dehaven’s first performance on the Playhouse stage. He took an adult acting class at the Playhouse and eventually heard through the grapevine that director Dave Frazer wanted him to audition for “Barefoot.”
DeHaven said his role is “almost all fun.” To make the character his own, he created a background story to explain the character’s Spanish last name and references in the play that his character is Hungarian. He researched how to speak American English with a Hungarian accent so he could do it accurately.
Frazer picked the play because Neil Simon is one of his favorite authors.
“I really like him because he can make zany characters seem normal, seem real,” Frazer said.
Frazer said he believes the emotions of the main characters are the driving force of the plot. Although it’s a romantic comedy, it has a serious side because it’s about two very different people who have to make their marriage work.
“When one of them is crazy, the other one is very calm and then they flip roles,” he said.
The set also changes throughout the play; audience members will see the apartment become fully furnished. Frazer said this is the most prop-heavy show he’s ever done.
“The apartment is almost the seventh character,” he said.
Tickets are available at whidbeyplayhouse.com/tickets.