'Barefoot' promises to be a delight

Saturday, October 8, 2005

As the crowning touch to their 20th anniversary celebration, cast and crew members from the Southwest Nebraska Community Theater Association will present "Barefoot in the Park" in Oberlin and McCook.

The classic romantic comedy, written by Neil Simon, opens Saturday night at the Gateway Center in Oberlin, then moves to McCook for the final four performances next Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights and Sunday afternoon.

"As is always the case with Simon plays, it is a delightful story," said Don Harpst, an original member of the theater association who is still active in productions. Set in a sixth floor apartment building in New York City, the three-act play depicts newlyweds, Paul and Corie Bratter, who are striving to adapt to each other's personalities.

The husband, portrayed by Tim Miller, is very precise. The wife, played by Leanne (Christner) Miller, is spontaneous. The dynamics of the young couple's relationship adds spice and spark to the show.

Adding more humorous complications to the story are Victor Velasco, the ladies' man who lives in the upstairs attic, a part played by Harpst; and Ethel Banks, the new bride's mother, portrayed by Beverly Rhea. Rounding out the cast are Lester Webb as the delivery man and Tyler Cobb as the telephone man.

Tim and Leanne have life experience to guide them in their lead roles. A young married couple with two small children, the Millers met while studying violin in Colorado. Following their marriage and move to McCook, the Millers have joined Leanne's family, the Christners, in musical performances.

Coleen Grant and Carl Philo are co-directors of the show, with Howard Kool serving as producer. The play also is benefitting from the set decoration and design of Chuck and Dian Trail. "It's fantastic," Harpst says of the set, which depicts the newlyweds' New York apartment, topped off by a skylight with a hole in it.

Dinner will be available before all four McCook shows. Serving begins at 6 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, and at 12:30 p.m. on Sunday. The evening shows begin at 7:30, and the Sunday matinee starts at 2 p.m.

As an added treat, there will be a wine tasting opportunity, courtesy of Barefoot Wine of California. After hearing about the local production, Dick Hoffman of McCook made arrangements for the California company's sponsorship.

All in all, the "Barefoot" play is shaping up as a nice treat. Simon's play is delightful, and so is the local presentation of the three-act classic.

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