Neil Simon's classic comedy Barefoot in the Park celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, and, even after all that time, the Tony Award-winning play remains one of the most popular comedies in regional and local theaters. The Show Palace Dinner Theatre in Hudson launches its version of the show on Friday and continues in matinees and evenings through July 28.
Set in 1960s Greenwich Village, it's the tale of the free-spirited Corie (Linda Farmer, Show Palace debut), who marries the uptight young attorney Paul Bratter (Tyler Fish, Cosmo in Singing in the Rain), and the two move into a fifth-floor flat with no elevator, which leaves visitors and occupants panting for breath with each visit.
Corie wants Paul to be spontaneous and fun — run barefoot in the park in freezing weather, for instance — but Paul wants to concentrate on his work. Corie's mom, Mrs. Banks (Sherry Churchill, Frau Schmidt in Sound of Music), visits the newlyweds, and Corie decides what her mom needs is a boyfriend. A good prospect is the Bratters' upstairs neighbor, the eccentric Victor Velasco (Pete Clapsis, Franklin Hart in 9 to 5).
The matchmaking goes awry, Corie threatens to divorce Paul, there's a hole in the roof — and it's all done with playwright Simon's famous one-liners and sight gags, as the telephone repair man (Dudley Saunderson, Ziegfeld in The Will Rogers Follies), the delivery man (Maruice A. Batista, Stage West) and the handyman (Itzy Friedman, Jacob in Joseph/Dreamcoat) struggle up the seemingly endless stairs.
Barefoot in the Park also marks the complete transition of ownership and management of the Show Palace to new owners, Vicki and Tommy Mara, from previous owner/founders Nick and Sal Sessa, as well as lowered summer show prices, a larger stage, a new seating arrangement, new show times and a revamped summer menu.
Stage designer Tom Hansen extended the stage toward the front with a semicircular apron that can convert to a runway; the stage-side seating includes tables for two, four and eight, with back row tables converted to rectangles instead of rounds; and the lighter summer menu consists of casseroles and salads.
"There will be plenty to eat, of course," said Jennifer Mara, publicist for the theater. "It's just that people don't really want a heavy meal when it's hot."
Perhaps the most noticeable change is performance times. Because of the July 4 holiday, Barefoot will open at 8 p.m. Friday (doors open at 6 p.m. for cash bar and buffet), but upcoming productions will open at 1:15 p.m. on Thursdays (doors open at 11:30 a.m. for cash bar and buffet). Barefoot's subsequent schedule is 1:15 p.m. Thursdays; 8 p.m. Saturdays (doors open 6 p.m.); and 3 p.m. Sundays (doors open 1 p.m.).
The schedule change had been made before the change in ownership, but the Maras decided to stick with it.
The theater now sells tickets on its website, www.showpalace.net. Click on the gold "Buy Tickets Now" button at the top of the page and a list of all shows — including one-night specials — comes up. Select the show, then the date, and a diagram of the tables comes up. Green seats are available; gray seats have been sold. Click on the seat you want, click "okay," then proceed to checkout, where Visa, MasterCard and Discover cards are accepted. Confirmation and tickets are sent via email.
"This is a wonderful new convenience for our customers," Mara said.