Barefoot in the Park
|Barefoot in the Park|
|Written by||Neil Simon|
Mrs. Ethel Banks (Corie's mother)
Telephone repair man
|Date premiered||October 23, 1963|
|Place premiered||Biltmore Theatre|
|Subject||Newlyweds learn to cope with life, and each other|
Barefoot in the Park is a romantic comedy by Neil Simon. The play premiered on Broadway in 1963, starring Robert Redford and Elizabeth Ashley. It was made into a film in 1967, which starred Redford and Jane Fonda.
The play opened on Broadway at the Biltmore Theatre on October 23, 1963, and closed on June 25, 1967, after 1,530 performances. It was Neil Simon's longest-running hit, and the tenth-longest running non-musical play in Broadway history. The cast included Elizabeth Ashley (Corie), Robert Redford (Paul), Mildred Natwick (Mrs. Banks), and Kurt Kasznar (Victor Velasco); the director was Mike Nichols. Scenic design was by Oliver Smith, costumes by Donald Brooks, and lighting by Jean Rosenthal. The play was nominated for four 1964 Tony Awards, with Nichols winning the award for Best Direction of a Play.
Myrna Loy starred as Mrs. Banks opposite Joan Van Ark as Corie and Richard Benjamin as Paul in the national tour during the time the play was still on Broadway. Beginning in 1978, Dorothy Lamour spent three years playing Mrs. Banks in dinner theatres around the country.
A revival opened on Broadway at the Cort Theater on February 16, 2006, and closed on May 21, 2006, after 109 performances. The cast included Amanda Peet (Corie), Patrick Wilson (Paul), Jill Clayburgh (Mrs. Banks), and Tony Roberts (Victor). The revival was directed by Scott Elliott.
A revival production toured the United Kingdom in 2012. The cast included Maureen Lipman, Faye Castelow, Dominic Tighe, and Oliver Cotton. The play was directed by Lipman in partnership with Peter Cregeen.
Corie and Paul Bratter are a newlywed couple. For their first home, they live in an apartment on the top floor of a brownstone in New York City. Corie is optimistic about their future together, while Paul, the more anxious and grounded half of the couple, worries about the various flaws in the apartment, such as a hole in the skylight, their leaky closet, and the lack of a bathtub. Shortly after moving in, Corie attempts to set her mother up with their eccentric neighbor Mr. Velasco. During the course of four days, the couple learns to live together while facing the usual daily ups-and-downs. Corie wants Paul to become more easy-going: for example, to run "barefoot in the park".
According to theatre historian Jordan Schildcrout, "Most critics noted that Barefoot in the Park has 'a dime-a-dozen premise [and] virtually no plot' (Variety) and 'is about nothing at all' (Herald Tribune). But they also praised Simon as a 'highly skilled professional writer' (Herald Tribune) who used this simple dramatic situation to create 'one of the funniest comedies ever' (Life)." Some critics credited director Mike Nichols for making the play "consistently funnier than its modest dialogue seemed to entitle it to be" (New York Times). On the basis of strong reviews and even stronger word of mouth, the Broadway production became a sold-out hit, causing the Biltmore Theatre to double the number of staff in its box-office to deal with the demand for tickets.
A television series based on the play began on ABC in September 1970. It was an African American situation comedy which ran for twelve weeks. The show featured Scoey Mitchell and Tracy Reed as a "young middle-class couple living in a New York City apartment and struggling through the first years of marriage." This was one of two television series based on Neil Simon plays to debut on the network that month, the other being The Odd Couple.
A production of Barefoot in the Park ran at the Moore Theater in Seattle for one week in late 1981; it was taped for a made-for-TV movie by HBO. The play—and movie—starred Richard Thomas as Paul, Bess Armstrong as Corie, Barbara Barrie as Mrs. Banks, and Hans Conried as Velasco. It was initially telecast in March 1982. The reviewer for UPI wrote: "Richard Thomas—light years removed from the John Boy image of his youth—is superb as Paul Bratter, the buttoned-down young lawyer struggling to come to terms with the elfin free spirit with whom he finds himself honeymooning. Bess Armstrong glows in the role of his wife, Corie, but Barbara Barrie virtually walks away with the show as her bemused mother."
- Schildcrout, Jordan (2019). In the Long Run: A Cultural History of Broadway's Hit Plays. New York and London: Routledge. p. 143. ISBN 978-0367210908.
- Schildcrout, Jordan (2019). In the Long Run: A Cultural History of Broadway's Hit Plays. New York and London: Routledge. p. 147. ISBN 978-0367210908.
- Brantley, Ben (February 17, 2006). "Early Simon, Dressed by Mizrahi". The New York Times. Retrieved April 10, 2012.
- Spencer, Charles (May 1, 2012). "Barefoot in the Park, Richmond Theatre, review". The Telegraph. Retrieved November 20, 2015.
- Schildcrout, Jordan (2019). In the Long Run: A Cultural History of Broadway's Hit Plays. New York and London: Routledge. p. 142. ISBN 978-0367210908.
- Schildcrout, p. 144.
- "'Barefoot in the Park' History". TCM. Retrieved April 13, 2012.
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- "'Barefoot in the Park' Listing". IMDb. Retrieved April 13, 2012.
- Hanauer, Joan (December 8, 1981). "Peopletalk Glimpses". United Press International. Retrieved April 14, 2012.
- Krebs, Albin; Thomas Jr., Robert McG (November 2, 1981). "Notes On People; Song-and-Dance Role Beckons Richard Thomas". The New York Times. Retrieved April 14, 2012.
- "Barefoot in the Park". TCM. Retrieved April 14, 2012.
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- Clark, Kenneth R. (March 19, 1982). "TV World". United Press International. Retrieved April 14, 2012.