Yesterday night I decided to venture over to the Woodbury Sketch Club Players to see Stage Left Productions’ version of Barefoot in the Park. Stage Left has partnered with the SCP and this is Stage Left’s first production of the partnership. Since some of the members where in Jesus Christ Superstar, I thought it would be a good idea to support the group with its new endeavors. It turned out to be a great idea.
Director Ed Santiago has created a gem of a production, drawing out truly amazing performances from all of the cast. Laurie Halloran is perky enough as Corie, capturing the good girl of the ’60s who wants the to live free and wild but isn’t really sure how to go about it without driving her new husband crazy. Elaine Fydrych is perfect as the befuddled mother who gets caught in the middle of her daughter’s “wild” night out. Endearing and very funny, her performance is reminiscent of those like Maureen Stapleton in Bye, Bye, Birdie.
Pat DeFusco brings in a deliciously understated performance as Victor Valasco. His large moustache, pointed goatee, and purposely dyed hair (what little of it there is) could have made this character cartoonish, but his smooth style and wit turned Victor into a charming, real person. And then there is Matt Reher as Paul. In a play of outstanding performances, this was THE outstanding performance. From the minute he came on stage, Matt commanded your attention. His movements and facial expressions brought a great depth and humor to his performance. One scene in particular, where Paul is looking through the skylight, was simply priceless – I don’t remember when I laughed so hard. This was a performance worthy of a much bigger venue. It was simply a pleasure to watch him.
Equally good performances were provided by Keith Bowers as a delivery man and Troy Cooper as the Telephone Man. Troy also designed the set, which was perfect for the play. And pretty amazing considering that they only had a day and a half to build it.
Well, it almost sounds like they paid me to write this review; however, there were a few little things that I didn’t like but very minor. The script is from the 60’s and somewhat dated. It seems like director Santiago couldn’t decide to do it as a period piece or update it, so he did neither. The refrigerator and phone are of the right period but Corie receives a Mr. Coffee Maker as a gift. A joke about the future 1987 falls flat and one making reference to a “gook” in an Asian Restaurant was offensive. Both of those jokes could have easily been modified or removed. But the worst faux-pas was the awful dress Corie wore to dinner – pink with a scalloped hem, shoulder pads and a big gold belt. It looked more like 1985 then 1965. Of course, I’m gay so I have to complain about the dress.
But as I said, these are minor things. Don’t let them deter you from seeing the show. That would be a shame because if you only go to one show this year, this is the show to see. It’s the type of show that proves the value of local community theater-amazing performances in an intimate setting. It just doesn’t get better than this. The show only runs until October 24th so make plans now to see it before it’s gone. For more information, check out either Stage Left’s or Woodbury Sketch Club Players’ website.