Barefoot in the Park Returns to Bucks County Birthplace; Jonathan Hadary and Candy Buckley Among Cast
By Kenneth Jones
Neil Simon's Barefoot in the Park,a play that premiered at Bucks County Playhouse in Pennsylvania prior to its 1963 Broadway run, returns to its Pennsylvania roots Aug. 7. Tony Award nominee Sheryl Kaller directs Jonathan Hadary, Candy Buckley, Lee Aaron Rosen, Virginia Veale and Robert John Biedermann.
BCP (Jed Bernstein, producing director) in New Hope, PA, announced casting on July 12. The is the Playhouse's second production under new leadership in a renovated home.
Barefoot in the Park was called Nobody Loves Me when it made its premiere at the Playhouse 50 years ago.
Simon said in a statement, "I am so delighted that the Bucks County Playhouse, such an important place in my creative life, will be up and running again. For it to feature in its renaissance season, one of my own plays is icing on the cake."
First seen on the BCP stage nearly 50 years ago prior to its original 1963 Broadway run, "this iconic and beloved play about the trials and tribulations of two newlyweds on the top floor of a New York brownstone has been leaving audiences breathless with laughter for generations," according to Playhouse notes.
Hadary (Victor Velasco) was Tony-nominated for playing Herbie opposite Tyne Daly in 1990's Gypsy and was in Off-Broadway's Assassins and As Is; Buckley (Corie's mother, Mrs. Banks) appeared in Broadway's Cabaret and Thoroughly Modern Millie and many Off-Broadway productions; Lee Aaron Rosen (Paul) appeared in Broadway's The Normal Heart and Off-Broadway's The Lady From Dubuque and Gabriel; Robert John Biedermann (Telephone Repair Man) appeared in many national tours including The Wizard of Oz and South Pacific; Veale (Corie), a recent graduate of The Juilliard Drama Division, received Julliard’s 2011 John Houseman Prize.
Performances play to Aug. 26 at BCP at 70 South Main Street.
Each performance will also feature a distinguished member of the local community in the role of the Delivery Person. Scheduled to appear to date are: New Hope Mayor Laurence D. Keller, New Hope Borough Council President Dr. Claire Shaw, New Hope Borough Councilwoman Geri Delevich, Chairman of the Board of the Heritage Conservancy Marvin L. Woodall, artist/photographer and former CEO of the James A. Michener Art Museum Bruce Katsiff, Executive Director of the Central Bucks Chamber of Commerce Dr. Vail P. Garvin, and beloved cabaret entertainer and owner of Bob Egan Entertainment Bob Egan.
The third production of 2012 will open in December. Full details for this production are forthcoming.
For more information, visit bcptheater.org or call (215) 862-2121.
A Grand Night for Singing is currently playing BCP to July 29.
Broadway, TV and film stars regularly appeared at the Playhouse, and pre-Broadway tryouts were part of its history. In recent years, non-union shows were staged there, giving the playhouse the sheen of an earnest community theatre. That period has passed.
The late 18th-century building — a 90-minite drive from New York City — was originally a grist mill. In the 1930s, the mill was purchased by a group that included playwright Moss Hart, with the idea of producing theatre there. Renovations began in 1938 in anticipation of an official opening on July 1, 1939. The first show was the drama Springtime for Henry starring Edward Everett Horton.
Bucks County Playhouse became known as "America's Most Famous Summer Theatre," welcoming major stars. The plays Harvey, Nobody Loves Me (aka Barefoot in the Park) and Give 'Em Hell Harry made their premieres there. The list of performers who have played there includes Kim Hunter, Helen Hayes, Kitty Carlisle, Colleen Dewhurst, Shirley Booth, Sara Seegar, Lillian Gish, June Lockhart, Frances Reid, Peggy McCay, Grace Kelly, Bonnie Franklin, Kaye Ballard, Sandy Dennis, Farley Granger, Robert Redford, Paul Lynde, Kevin McCarthy, Bert Lahr, Leslie Nielsen, Jack Klugman, Gale Gordon, Roddy McDowell, Walter Matthau, Merv Griffin and Larry Hagman, among many others.
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