SAUTEE — They call it a "dramedy," and "Barefoot in the Park," the last show to appear at Black Bear Dinner Theatre, certainly is a mix of laughter and tears as newlyweds Corie (Katie Deal) and Paul Bratter (Judson Wright) move into their brownstone Manhattan apartment.
"It deals with a young couple moving in to discovering that there are a few pitfalls that come into play as they are adjusting to their married life," said David Rothel, artistic director for the theater.
At first it’s all wedding gifts and hugs and kisses, but reality sets in for the couple as Paul attempts to work on his first court case as a brand new lawyer with no furniture to sit on — it hasn’t been delivered yet.
Before Bloomingdale’s gets around to bringing the couch and chairs to the sixth floor walk-up apartment, another problem arrives: Corie’s mother, Ethel Banks.
Ethel, played by Jan Gabbert, is the kind of Georgia-bred lady who would never say an unkind word, but manages to make the kindest words sound biting as Corie tries to explain why the tiny apartment has no bathtub, no heat and a gaping hole in the skylight.
Black Bear alumnus Charlie Kidd also makes an appearance as a quirky character, Victor Velasco, the Bratters’ attic-dwelling neighbor.
After a night out on the town with Victor and Ethel, Corie realizes the differences between her free-spirited self and her straight-laced husband, which is the starting point for the couple’s first real fight.
"Barefoot," written by Neil Simon in the 1960s, is timeless in many ways, with the exception of one crucial character. The telephone repair man, played by Chris Wright, huffs and puffs his way up all six floors only to install a phone with — gasp! — a cord.
Set designer Dean Morrison manages to take the audience from Sautee all the way to New York City with a set that looks like an apartment cut right out of its East 48th Street location.
Showgoers even imagine the stairs that lead to the Bratters’ door, and might wonder how Corie makes the trip in her red high heels.
"He is somebody that I have delighted in working with on the sets, and he made this sixth floor, walk-up, brownstone-like apartment in New York look quite real," Rothel said.