Datebook: Community Players Goes Barefoot For Comedy Classic | WGLT

Datebook: Community Players Goes Barefoot For Comedy Classic

Aug 30, 2019

Boy meets girl. Boy marries girl. Boy, does that ever change everything!

Go beyond the happy-ever-after with the new production from Community Players in Bloomington. It’s Neil Simon’s classic comedy, “Barefoot in the Park.” The show opens with a preview Sept. 5 and continues through the 15th.

Directed by Opal Virtue and starring Dakota McDaniels and Kayla Blue as newlyweds Corie and Paul Bratter, the play features the misadventures of a possibly mismatched just-married young couple living in a New York City 5th floor walk-up. The pair are wildly in love, but before they can finish shaking the rice out of their hair, cracks begin to show in their passionate relationship. 

“Corie is a very glass-is-half-full kind of girl,” explained Virtue. “She sees the fun and excitement in everything. And Paul is ... not. Adventure scares him, the unknown causes him stress. So, once the honeymoon is over, the story starts to show the differences between them.”

Opal Virtue is the director of "Barefoot in the Park," and confesses that she relates to the optimism of the character of Corie.
Credit Laura Kennedy / WGLT

A big Neil Simon fan, McDaniels said he feels a kinship with the character of Paul.

“Paul really appeals to me because we are very similar. It’s nice to play someone who reacts to things happening rather than making them happen. He’s just a sort of a vanilla individual.” 

The other scoop of ice cream in this double-dipped show has the flavor of tie-dye, Blue said of her character, Corie.

“It takes like raspberries, mint, blueberry, lemon and grape all at once,” Blue explained. 

The show is character driven, said Virtue. “The comedy comes from the differences between Paula and Corie. And then we throw in Corie’s mother, who is much more like Paul than Corie. And then throw in their upstairs neighbor, Mr. Velasco, who is just kind of a kook. And Corie decides it’s a good idea to set her mom and Mr. Velasco up on a blind date.” 

As Corie and Paul struggle to see eye-to-eye and make their marriage work, Neil Simon offers audiences a lesson, and compromise is at its core. 

“You have to give and take,” said Virtue. 

“You should take your time,” added McDaniels. “And make sure you know who you’re entering the agreement with. Because that’s one of the things this couple struggles with. They feel like they didn’t spend enough time getting to know one another before they made that leap.” 

“Opposites do attract,” put in Blue. “That adage is very true with this play.  However, maybe sometime their magnetic poles switched for Corie, somewhere in the middle of the play, and what was once alluring and attractive to Paul became the opposite.” 

“Barefoot in the Park” is one of the longest running plays in Broadway history, debuting in 1963 to rave reviews. In between the laughs, said Virtue, there’s a timeless message. 

“I think it’s important that we learn to get along, find the common ground in any relationship, and I think Neil Simon is really good at that. His plays are about relationships and the disfunction within those relationships.  But he always finds a way to bring it back to a good place.” 

“Barefoot in the Park” opens with a preview at Community Players on Sept. 5 and runs through the 15th.

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