'Barefoot in the Park' opening in Long Beach

LONG BEACH - The beloved Neil Simon comedy, "Barefoot in the Park," opens at the Long Beach Playhouse's mains stage this Saturday for a month-long engagement.Directed by Denis McCourt, the light-hearted romance between a straight-laced lawyer and an impetuous free spirit begins where most romantic comedies end, bringing reality and humor to the life that happens after two people fall in love and get married. Tickets are $24 for adults, $21 for seniors and $14 for students, and can be purchased by calling (562) 494-1014 or online at lbplayhouse.org. The following is an interview with McCourt conducted by the Long Beach Playhouse: Was there anything about this play that particularly attracted you to directing it? I am a sucker for the tradition of theatre. So, I am thrilled to be working here at an 80+ year old theatre company. I am a big fan of Lauren Morris and all the work she did here at the Playhouse. I love many of the plays that Andrew has been selecting for production. Ironically, I would never have selected Barefoot in the Park to direct/produce myself. But, I am a fan of Neil Simon's work...he is great with capturing the funny side of life that touches our hearts. So, when I got the call...I was up for the challenge. I feel it is both true to Neil Simon and me. Do you think the play has some positive messages that relates to today's issues? Love...marriage...and what that means in 2012 as opposed to the 1960's. I became more interested in this play by Neil Simon because, today, the whole idea of marriage is being debated with the social context of same sex couples. My partner Leon and I (14 years) could get married...then couldn't get married...then could get married in some places...but not others...and if we did get married somewhere like New York...it would be recognized some places...but not other places! I think Neil Simon was looking closely at the idea of marriage from a traditional 1950's model; set against the beginning of the sexual revolution and female independence. It is Neil Simon after all...I did not change the play...but it is really interesting to hear these words given the current social context. Was there anything about the play that was difficult to pull off or anything that surprised you? Wow, I think EVERY PLAY is difficult to 'pull off'. And every time it happens and audiences connect to it...I am amazed. I think Actors/Technical Theatre Artists are REALLY brave people. Shakespeare's Hamlet said it best: "We hold the mirror up...so humanity can see itself." ...the prospect of that idea is never an easy thing to do...and comedy is even harder (for me) than tragic stories...and it is what keeps me coming back for more...theatre, for me, is like a drug...I'm addicted. Is there anything else you'd like to say about the show? If you are a Neil Simon fan...come on out. I've added some twists that will make it unique and original. If you've never seen Neil Simon's work live on stage...come on out...you'll laugh and feel good when you leave...there may even be some music...I'm just sayin'.

********** Published: January 12, 2012 - Volume 10 - Issue 39