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Thursday, September 15, 2016

Villagers Theatre presenting Neil Simon favorite 'Barefoot in the Park'

SOMERSET, N.J. (Sept. 14, 2016) – If you've ever got into a yelling match with your partner, Villagers Theatre is bringing a show to its mainstage this weekend that you should be able to relate to.

“Barefoot in the Park,” a comedy written by audience favorite Neil Simon, will play weekends through Oct. 2. The show joins a pair of polar-opposite newlyweds directly after their honeymoon as they decide to play matchmaker for the bride's mother, and discover things about themselves and their own relationship that they hadn't known before. And therein lies the show's broad appeal.

“Simon is popular because his stuff is relatable and funny,” said director Matt Lafargue. “To me, 'Barefoot in the Park' is a lot more relevant and a lot more poignant than it may appear.”

The key is that both drama and comedy have their roots in conflict; and as is true of Simon's other works, the story of “Barefoot in the Park” is one rife with potential for conflict. Paul Bratter, the male lead, is a straitlaced lawyer who plays by the book. His wife, Corie, is a free spirit who pays far less attention to the rulebook than she does to what she enjoys. The combination makes a perfect storm for comedy or for bickering and relationship counseling, as any married couple will attest.

In the Villagers Theatre production that Lafargue is directing, expect both laughter and raw emotion.

“This is not going to be just a cute comedy. The scenes that are intense are going to be intense,” said Lafargue, a resident of Dunellen. “We really are trying to get the heart of the show. We're not tracking it as a light evening of comedy. We're working at making these real, 3-D people.”

The characters in “Barefoot in the Park” engage in Neil Simon's trademark repartee, but the relationship conflict that connects with audiences also gets to the heart of larger themes that Lafargue expects will resonate far beyond a night at the theater. Conflict ends not just when we discover our common humanity, but when we discover how one another's differences enrich us all.

“The central message of 'Barefoot in the Park' is taking the time to get to know people who are different from you,” said Lafargue. “Not only can you connect on what you have in common, but you can connect on what's different.”

First performed on Broadway in 1963, "Barefoot in the Park" closed nearly four years later, in 1967, making it Simon's longest-running show. It was adapted into a movie in 1967 starring Robert Redford and Jane Fonda.

The first show in the Villagers Theatre 2016-17 season, “Barefoot in the Park” runs Sept. 16-Oct. 2, with performances at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and at 2 p.m. Sundays. Tickets are available online, at

A nonprofit community theatre located at 475 Demott Lane, Somerset, Villagers Theatre has been providing area theatre-goers with a Broadway experience for the cost of a movie ticket since 1960. Upcoming shows this season include the musical “Titanic”; the Civil Rights drama “Mountaintop,” about the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.; the comedy musical “Altar Boyz”; and children's shows “A Christmas Cinderella” and “Schoolhouse Rock Live Jr.”

Programs are made possible, in part, by funds from the New Jersey State Council of the Arts/Department of State, a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts, and administered by the Somerset County Cultural & Heritage Commission through the State/County Partnership Local Arts Program.

For more information, call Villagers Theatre at (732) 873-2710.

“Barefoot in the Park” features the following actors:

CORIE BRATTER: Kristin Sarboukh of South Bound Brook
PAUL BRATTER: Bryan Siegel of East Brunswick
MRS. BANKS: Debbie Badal of Morristown
VICTOR VELASCO: Richard Butler of Piscataway
HARRY PEPPER: Rupert Ravens of North Brunswick
DELIVERY MAN: Casey Okamoto of Somerset

1 comment:

  1. The Villagers present professional quality shows time and time again. I have been a season ticket holder for years now and am looking forward to another great season!