You can go to Broadway, or stay in Annapolis, to see 1960s revival

THE BALTIMORE SUN

The Neil Simon comedy Barefoot in the Park returns to the stage next weekend - on Broadway as well as in Annapolis.

On the same weekend that the play returns to Broadway for the first time since the run following its October 1963 premiere, it also opens at Bay Theatre, the professional theater of Annapolis at 275 West St.

"When we selected this play, we had no idea that a Broadway revival would open the very same weekend as our show, and although we won't have costumes designed by Isaac Mizrahi, we will have costumes appropriate for the '60s. We're having a lot of fun with this production. We have a strong cast and are thrilled with our director Peter Wray," said Bay co-founder Janet Luby last week at rehearsal.

Trading her usual directing chores for an acting stint, Bay Theatre's Lucinda Merry-Browne added: "After opening with Sam Shepard's somewhat dark Fool for Love, we wanted to offer something light and breezy that is also solid and real. In this piece, our approach is to portray a slice of life at a specific historical time - here a time of confidence and hope only one month before the Kennedy assassination at the end of the Camelot period, a more innocent time, when Barefoot opened."

A sophisticated comedy that became a Jane Fonda-Robert Redford movie, Barefoot in the Park tells the story of newlyweds Corie and Paul Bratter in their sixth-floor walk-up in a New York brownstone. Opposites - carefree, optimistic Corie and conservative, stodgy Paul - try to adjust to each other and to life in a cramped and cold, rather disastrous apartment. Enter Corie's nervous mother who lives in New Jersey and the couple's eccentric neighbor who lives in the attic apartment upstairs, and the fun begins.

Bay Theatre's production will be directed by Peter Wray, a Towson University professor, Equity actor and professional director who was seen last season as Captain Bluntschli in Bay's Arms and the Man. Megan Dominy plays Corie, and Ben Russo, who was seen as Eddie in Fool for Love, plays Paul. Merry-Browne plays Corie's mother, Mrs. Banks, and returning to Bay Theatre for the third time is Chris Poverman as neighbor Victor Velasco. Mark Poremba plays the telephone repairman.

Reflecting last week on progress during the current season, Merry-Browne and Luby noted that Bay Theatre has grown as a company, with more subscribers and generally larger audiences than last year. Donations have helped to secure much-needed administrative and office help.

This season will also be the first to offer four plays -benefit performances of The Gin Game, featuring Rena Cherry-Brown and Paul Donaceau, are set for April 7-9. This initiates an expanded, four-play season, another cherished Bay Theatre Company goal.

Barefoot in the Park opens Jan. 27 and plays weekends - Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m. - through March 4.

Tickets are $22 for general admission and $17 for students with IDs and seniors age 65 and over. Tickets may be purchased online at www.baytheatre.org or by phoning 410-268-1333.

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