A Brooklyn native wrote it. Manhattan is the setting. And Staten Island is a destination. But now, the world’s most diverse borough is offering it.

Queens Theatre will host nine presentations of the iconic play “Barefoot in the Park” from Friday, Nov. 15, to Sunday, Nov. 24. Ticket prices run from $20 to $40, but QNS readers can get $5 discounts with the promo code “TOURISM.”

Neil Simon’s romantic comedy revolves around 1960s newlyweds Corie, a free-spirit, and Paul, a straitlaced lawyer. After a fancy honeymoon at The Plaza Hotel, they move into a fifth-floor Greenwich Village walkup with no bathtub, a leaky closet, and a hole in the skylight. With really funny, crisp dialogue, hilarity ensues as they adjust to living together. Corie adds some decorative touches as she strives to create a romantic refuge in the one-room apartment, while Paul nervously works on building his practice. At one point, wifey tells hubby to relax a little and run “barefoot in the park” even if the weather is freezing.

An eccentric neighbor adds to the absurdity. He crawls through the couple’s window to get to his attic abode and flirts with Corie every now and then. Corie reacts by trying to set him up with her mother. What could go wrong?

The play, which is loosely based on Simon’s first marriage to dancer Joan Baim, ends with Paul skipping work to get drunk and run shoeless through Washington Square Park. Of course, this escapade brings the couple together for an uproarious-but-romantic finale.

Barefoot in the Park” debuted on Broadway in 1963 with Robert Redford and Elizabeth Ashley in the lead roles. The script was adapted into a blockbuster 1967 film starring Robert Redford (again) and Jane Fonda. A television series based on the play launched in 1970, but it only lasted 12 weeks.

Brant Russell, who has worked on three Queens Theatre productions, directs this version of “Barefoot in the Park.” Carey Cox, who was recently an understudy in “The Glass Menagerie” on Broadway, plays Corie, while Spencer Lackey, who just appeared in The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey’s “Shakespeare in Love,” is Paul. Rounding out the cast are Mhari Sandoval as Corie’s mother, Jon Peterson as the upstairs neighbor, and Rahoul Roy as the telephone repairman.

Showtimes are Nov. 15 at 8 p.m.; Nov. 16 at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.; Nov. 17 at 3 p.m.; Nov. 20 at 2 p.m.; Nov. 22 at 8 p.m.; Nov. 23 at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.; and Nov. 24 at 3 p.m. (The Nov. 17 show will be ASL Interpreted. The Nov. 23 matinee will have open captioning. The Nov. 24 finale will be audio described.)

“This incredibly funny gem, with brilliant writing and physical comedy from one of America’s leading playwrights, is updated for the 21st century,” stated Queens Theatre Executive Director Taryn Sacramone, adding that the work “remains a paean to New York City and its theme of triumph of optimism over adversity. In the end, it is a timeless tale of a couple getting to know each other and a story about the joy of life, even when times are tough.”

Queens Theatre, which is fully wheelchair accessible, is located at 14 United Nations Ave. S. inside Flushing Meadows Corona Park. There’s free parking near the venue and a free shuttle runs to and from the 7 train’s Willets Point/Citi Field station before and after performances.

Photos: Dominick Totino


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