PA Playhouse production portrays 1960s romantic duo

PORT ANGELES — Do opposites attract and can they successfully cohabitate without destroying each other? This is the ultimate relationship question Neil Simon explores in the comedy classic, “Barefoot in the Park,” presented by the Port Angeles Community Playhouse and opening tonight.

Performances are at the Port Angeles Community Playhouse, 1235 E. Lauridsen Blvd., at 7:30 p.m. tonight and Saturday as well as June 11, 14, 15, 18, 21 and 22; and at 2 p.m. Sunday and June 16 and 23.

Tickets can be purchased at Brocante Antiques in downtown Port Angeles, 105 W. First St., or online at www.pacommunityplayers.org or at the theater just prior to performance. Doors open a half-hour before the performance begins.

Main stage admission is $15 with reserved seating; student admission is $8. Tickets for Tuesday performances are $15 for reserved seating but just $8 at the door for festival seating.

In the play, Corie and Paul are newlyweds fresh from their honeymoon. Corie is still enthralled by the adventure that comes with youth and marriage. She wants their passionate romantic life to continue at full speed.

Paul, however, feels it is time to focus on his burgeoning career as an up-and-coming lawyer. When they don’t see eye-to-eye about their apartment, their neighbors and their sex drive, the new marriage experiences its first patch of rough weather.

Corie loves everything about their new, dysfunctional home. Paul, however, does not share the love for all the “charm and color” and with the mounting demands of his career, the apartment becomes a catalyst for stress and anxiety.

Although the broken-down brownstone apartment initially creates the conflict between the two lovebirds, it is the eccentric neighbor Victor Velasco who furthers the tension.

Corie is charmed by the worldly and exotic neighbor, even going as far as covertly arranging a date between Victor Velasco and her prudish mother. Paul distrusts the neighbor.

Velasco represents everything Paul does not want to become: spontaneous, provocative and silly. Of course, those are all traits which Corie values.

An instant hit when it premiered in 1963 with a young Robert Redford in the lead as Paul, “Barefoot in the Park” ran for more than 1,500 performances on Broadway and established Neil Simon as America’s pre-eminent comic playwright.

In the new production at the Port Angeles Community Playhouse, Jonas Brown plays the young, straight-laced lawyer Paul and Marissa Wilson plays the free-spirited Corie.

Brown and Wilson have appeared together in prior productions at Peninsula College and in last year’s Shakespeare in the Woods production of “As You Like It.”

Production manager Richard Stephens said, “The comfortable familiarity these two actors have with each other, the trust and prior experience, allows them to convincingly play young newlyweds, very much in love, trying hard to make a success of their marriage.”

Crashing into their wedded bliss is Corie’s mother, played by Lynne Murphy, and the outlandish neighbor Victor Velasco, played by Ken Winter. Martin Gutowski as the telephone repair man rounds out the cast.

The show is directed by Barbara Frederick with the production set in 1967, the “Summer of Love.”

“These two [Brown and Wilson] really sell it as lovebirds — they are perfect in their parts,” she said.

Frederick is equally enthused about the set designed by Ron Coffman, a wonky brownstone apartment with a giant (leaking) skylight, tiny bedroom and brightly painted walls.

“The apartment is very much a character in this show,” she said.

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