Barefoot in the Park is the current production at The Snug Theatre in Marine City. Photo: The Snug

We're Barefootin' In Marine City

By John Quinn

Some Michigan residents don't know what they're missing. Not you, the sophisticated intelligent types who read my little columns. I'm writing about the unwashed masses that aren't aware of the wealth of great comedy produced by our professional theaters. No, they huddle in front of their 50 inch LED screen watching reruns of "The Mindy Project" and never experience the "kick out of life" experience of live theater. The experience under discussion is "Barefoot in the Park," in production at The Snug Theatre in Marine City.

The play is over 50 years old and is still fresh as a dandelion, brisk as a May breeze. That's due to its playwright, Neil Simon, one of the great masters of American comedy. Need I mention "successful?" Simon had four shows on Broadway in 1966, including "Barefoot in the Park." It enjoyed the longest run of any of his works. Their enduring popularity stems from Simon's thoughtful, witty explorations of the common man and the frailty of the human condition.

It's 1963, a time equally denoted by the aqua, steel kitchen cabinetry and the freshly painted stenciling that grace Pal Molnar's set. It's the tiny, five-floor walk-up in Manhattan that Corie Bratter has rented for her new home with her new husband, Paul. The marriage was impetuous; the six-day honeymoon at the Plaza Hotel torrid. But can the free-spirited Corie and the "unadventuresome" Paul settle down in marital bliss? Well, this is a comedy, therefore it has a happy ending, but getting there is all the fun.

Sara Wolf directs a sprightly cast in this fast-paced comedy. While Simon has a knack with one liners, "Barefoot in the Park" derives most of its comedy from situation and character. The quips fly rapidly, though, in Corie and Paul's second act fight, and here Kelly Kennedy and Chris Mick really shine. But the playwright isn't done with - ahem - "odd couples." Corie thinks their neighbor, flamboyant Victor Velasco, the self-styled "Sheik of Budapest," just might be the perfect companion for her widowed mother, Ethel. The older pair is as mismatched as the younger, and the blind date Corie arranges must have been quite a time. While everybody gets roaring drunk, only Victor and Corie can throw caution to the winds.

Nancy Arnfield, artistic director for The Snug, plays a passive-aggressive mother/mother-in-law, underplaying the lines to great comic effect. It doesn't hurt that Simon wrote some really funny material for the part.

In contrast, Kim Monterrosso's Victor fills the stage with his presence: charming, wolfish, but something of a lovable con artist. The five-flight climb (six, if you count the stoop out front) to the apartment is the running gag of the show, and the audience can only sympathize while laughing at exhausted service workers Mike Trobaugh and Charles Chalgian.

So what's the moral of our little tale? The immortal Jimmy Durante put it best: "You've got to give a little, take a little/And let your poor heart break a little/That's the story of, that's the glory of love!"

REVIEW:

'Barefoot in the Park'

The Snug Theatre, 160 S. Water St., Marine City. 7 p.m. Thursday-Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday through May 18. 2 hours, 10 minutes. $20. 810-278-1749. http://www.thesnugtheatre.com

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