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Barefoot in the Park

New Heritage dives into Simon silliness


Nothing like a lighthearted, shoeless romp in a snowy, frigid park to chase away the election blues. If you're feeling depressed because your favorite guys or gals weren't elected--or want to celebrate because they were--New Heritage Theatre's lively production of Barefoot in the Park will fill the bill.

Director Sandra Cavanaugh shows she can keep those fragile comic balls perfectly juggled, even five flights up (not counting the stoop). That's where newlyweds Corie and Paul are setting up their first home in a tiny New York City walk-up with a kitchen in the living room wall and a bedroom that accommodates only a bed.

Love will conquer all, right? All--except a hole in the skylight, no bathtub, and an eccentric upstairs neighbor who gets to his apartment by climbing out Corie and Paul's window.

A real-life couple play the newlyweds, and this may be why there is such a warm and affectionate aura around them (when they're not fighting). Jamie Farmer Ebersole is a bubbly, delightful Corie. She captures the young bride's enthusiasm and excitement in her new home to perfection, and she has an infectious smile that lights up the stage. Drew Ebersole, her real and stage husband, is properly serious and dignified as a fledgling lawyer, but he, too, exhibits an affectionate nature, when not being interrupted by intrusive neighbors and mothers.

Corie's mother, the prim and proper Mrs. Banks, is played with subdued charm by Patricia O'Hara, a newcomer to Boise. Although she underplays some of the humor in her role, O'Hara is excellent at presenting the mother's shock and dismay over her daughter's first home, and she handles her "blind date" with the flamboyant Victor Velasco with drunken bravery.

Michael Denney creates a swashbuckling Velasco, bragging about his gourmet cooking skills, his royal and famous friends and romancing every woman in sight. Denney gives Velasco a dashing persona and a dangerous twinkle in his eye.

Jeremy Chase plays the Telephone Man with philosophical humor, making the small role an unforgettable one. James Fisk, as the Lord & Taylor delivery man, won applause at his exit for his wordless performance, completely breathless after hiking up the five flights.

Barefoot in the Park seems a frothy departure from the more serious productions New Heritage has offered, such as the ethical questioning in September's Fair Use and the Shakespearean drama in next June's King Lear. Cavanaugh has endorsements from Olympia Dukakis, who is on her Advisory Board, and Anthony Hopkins, an honorary patron for New Heritage. The repertory company is in the middle of an $8.5 million Capital Campaign to renovate and restore the historic Idaho National Guard Armory in Boise as the home for its classes, performances and other performing arts groups. In addition to fundraising efforts, the company tours high schools throughout the state with educational outreach programs.

Barefoot in the Park proves a nice break from any harsh realities; its simple script centers on an attractive twosome fighting over nonsense and probably living happily ever after.

Barefoot in the Park by Neil Simon, directed by Sandra Cavanaugh

New Heritage Theatre Co. at Borah High School, 6001 Cassia

8 p.m. Thursday to Saturday through Nov. 20; 2 p.m. matinee Sunday, Nov. 14

$25 general admission; $15 students/seniors; groups of 10 or more (pre-paid) $10 each

Reservations at 381-0958