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9:50 PM Sat, Sept. 22nd

Prescott Center for the Arts' 'Barefoot in the Park' is humorous and poignant

From left, Julian Jenney as Paul Bratter, Judy Stahl as Ethel Banks and Danielle Plaso as Corie Bratter rehearse a scene from the Prescott Center for the Arts production of “Barefoot in the Park” Monday night. (Les Stukenberg/The Daily Courier)

From left, Julian Jenney as Paul Bratter, Judy Stahl as Ethel Banks and Danielle Plaso as Corie Bratter rehearse a scene from the Prescott Center for the Arts production of “Barefoot in the Park” Monday night. (Les Stukenberg/The Daily Courier)

Neil Simon's "Barefoot in the Park," directed by Jon Meyer and starring Danielle Plaso, Julian Jenney, Judy Stahl, Don Yarbrough, Bruce Heskett and Ivan Hall, has opened on the Main Stage at Prescott Center for the Arts, 208 N. Marina St. The show is very well put together, well-acted and mixes humor and poignancy to great effect.

The show is tightly done and makes great use of its minimal cast, making it so all the action on stage is done so for very specific reasons, such as providing a joke or furthering characterization. Nothing is ever stagnant, so the audience is not left wishing for something new and fresh to happen.

The acting is also done well, from the one-scene wonder of Hall as a delivery man who is out of breath and doesn't say anything because he just climbed up five flights of stairs, to Yarbrough's performance as the odd and eccentric Victor Velasco. Some of the best acting is by Plaso and Jenney. The former is able to go from lofty highs in Corie's joy of experiencing life and love with her husband to sullen depths of anger, thinking that she and Paul are going to divorce after one fight. The latter plays a wonderful straight man to all the rampant absurdity going on around him, including how oblivious Corie is to the apartment's problems and the strangeness of inviting his mother-in-law Ethel over for dinner that's in reality a blind date with Velasco. He does an exemplary job delivering many of his humorous lines with sarcastic disbelief at what's happening around him.

And that's just some of the humor in this show. There's a lot more. In a previous Daily Courier story, director Meyer stated this show was a bit more physical than other presentations. And it's true, there is some really good physical comedy, from Corie dropping Paul at one point to Paul struggling to drag Ethel back in another. However, much of the humor comes from the absurd and outlandish characterization and behavior by Velasco. Here's a man who lives in the attic of the apartment building and climbs through the window of Corie and Paul's apartment to get there. He also exhibits a lack of self-awareness about how strange he is, thinking that he cooks gourmet food (which no one else can stand) and takes Corie, Paul and Ethel to what he believes to be the perfect restaurant (where the only ones to have a good time are him and Corie).

But along with the humor the show also depicts a very important lesson using the relationship between Corie and Paul. The two are clearly in love, though it shows that marriage isn't going to be a perpetual high. When the two fight, they fight hard and almost end up breaking apart, and it takes Ethel and a telephone repair man to help Corie see that while the two may not always like each other, they'll always love each other. This is conveyed very well through Plaso and Jenney's acting.

"Barefoot in the Park" is definitely a must-see.

Show times are 7:30 p.m. Nov. 14-15 and 19-21 and 2 p.m. Nov. 15, 21 and 22. Tickets, available on www.pc-az.net, are $20 for adults and $15 for youth for 7:30 p.m. show times and $16 for adults and $12 for youths for 2 p.m. show times.

By Jason Wheeler. Follow reporter Jason Wheeler on Twitter @PrescottWheels. Reach him at 928-445-3333 ext. 2037 or at 928-642-5277.