Fort Hays State University Director Tomme Williams says audiences should come prepared Thursday evening when the student production of “Barefoot in the Park” opens at Felten-Start Theatre on the university campus.
“It is Neil Simon, who is known for comedy and one liners,” Williams said. “It’s a charming play and very funny. Audiences should come and expect a good time.”
An instructor in the Department of Music and Theater, Williams chose “Barefoot in the Park” at the end of last June, just two months before Neil Simon’s death Aug. 26, 2018.
She thought the play would be a good fit for her students, who are all very experienced and who have been in many productions.
“I knew it would be a successful vehicle for the actors, and also a challenge,” she said. “They’ve all been on the stage for three to four years with me, so they are accomplished and a lot of fun to watch.”
Beginning Thursday, the students will perform “Barefoot in the Park” for four days, with three performances and a matinee.
Doors open at 7 p.m. and curtains open at 7:30 p.m. through Saturday. Sunday’s matinee performance begins at 2:30 p.m.
The play follows newlyweds Corie and Paul Bratter’s adventure moving into their first apartment, up 10 flights of stairs, after their honeymoon, according to FHSU’s press release.
FHSU student Sophomore Dannielle Dickerson plays Corie and student Senior Cody Kreutzer plays Paul.
Not only well-written, the play is age appropriate, Williams said, and gives the actors opportunities for physical comedy, such as pratfalls.
“It’s funny and cute, they’re a cute young couple,” Williams said. “It’s very believable.”
Other actors are Junior Roslind Finlay, Sophomore Braydon Boyer and Freshman Micheal Hernandez.
The comedy unfolds with Corie, who is romantic, impulsive and enthusiastic, and her husband, Paul, who is a stuffy young attorney more concerned with his legal career than with honeymoon bliss, the release says.
The play premiered in 1963, but Williams has updated the setting to 2019, complete with cell phones. The students’ production exceeds her expectations.
“They’re doing a tremendous job. I’m very very pleased,” she said of their performance. “They surprise me a lot. They come up with things. It’s a very collaborative process. They just have those Aha! moments, especially when they begin to connect with each other, so it’s very organic and very appropriate for the moment. They make it their own in a very believable way.”
Williams praised Assistant Professor Debra Holmes for her contribution to the success of the production.
“We have a new technical director, and she has outdone herself on the set,” she said.
After opening on Broadway in 1963, the play closed in 1967 after 1,530 performances. It was nominated for three 1964 Tony Awards, where it won the award for Best Director in the dramatic category.
Tickets are $15 for the public and $10 for senior citizens. They are available for purchase at the Student Service Center or at the door.