Gateway season opens with ‘hysterical’ Neil Simon play

Barefoot in the Park well worth the time

By Katie Alicea-Tilton
Citizen Chronicle Theatre Critic

SOUTHBRIDGE — There’s no better way to jump into a new season than by filling a room with roaring laughter.

On Friday, Feb. 7, Gateway Players Theatre, Inc. kicked off their whopping 45th year with Neil Simon’s Barefoot in the Park currently playing at the Elm Street Congregational Church.  Hold onto your hats and grab onto your air tank because this production is going to take your breath away.

Picture this — 1960 New York City, newly married Corie (Hadley Crane) and Paul Bratter (Jason Iannone) are just settling into their new apartment together. The stage starts off as an empty kitchen/living room area on the fifth floor of a New York City apartment, mind you there is no elevator. Corie dives right into housewife mode and fully furnishes and beautifully transforms it into a place they can call home.  Paul is a young lawyer spending much of his time trying to plant his roots into his work and making a name for himself.

While Paul is busy in his work Corie sets up an appointment with the comical Telephone repairman played by Sean Nault, accepts endless wedding gifts from the poor winded delivery man (Dennis Gahagan) all sent by her very supportive mother (Gail Riva White). She even befriends her neighbor Victor Velasco played by Patrick Bracken who let’s just say dances to the beat of his own drum. Things start to go all over the place when Corie sets Victor and her mother up on a blind double date with Paul and herself.  She urges her very proper mother to let loose and just go with the flow. Throughout this evening Corie and Paul learn that marriage isn’t exactly all hugs and kisses.  They quickly learn that there are things that they love and hate about each other and that you have to take the good with the bad.

With 44 full years of shows behind them Gateway Players have gotten quite the knack for putting together the best teams to match each show. Director Mary Gahagan, producer Barbara Day, along with Stage Manager Erin Morin, did a phenomenal job pulling this production together.  They lead their cast a crew to a production that left the audience in stitches.

As my mother and I left the show last night we laughed hysterically and chatted about how nostalgic the whole setting was for the two of us as it was almost like walking into the time warp that is my grandmothers Manhattan apartment. Life back in the 60’s was very different but one thing remains the same, marriage is a union of two people in love who learn and grow together. If you’re looking for a last minute Valentine’s day outing, I highly suggest grabbing your significant other and catching one of the remaining shows, February 8, 14, and 15 at 7:30 p.m., or Sunday, February 16 at 2 p.m.


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