‘Barefoot in the Park’ remains a funny look at relationships

Playing the role of Corie in the Aiken Community Playhouse production of Barefoot in the Park is an easy one for Chelsea Essigmann.

 

“She’s a whole lot like me,” said Essigmann, who plays the free-spirited young newlywed in the Neil Simon classic, which will be performed two weekends beginning July 14 at the AECOM Performing Arts Center in downtown Aiken. “She’s neurotic, naive and the sweetest character. She’s not easily stepped on.”

Essigmann is opposite Sean Dimmick who plays Corie’s straight-laced attorney husband, Paul, and like her character of Corie, Essigmann said it’s been a fun experience working on the show and with him.

She admits laughing at “every other line that Paul says. He has so many punchlines.”

The play first premiered in New York in 1963 and was adapted into a film starring Jane Fonda and Robert Redford in 1967. Times and references may change, but at the heart of the comedy are universal truths about relationships that most people who’ve been in a long-term relationship can relate to, she said.

After their six-day honeymoon, Corie and Paul have to learn how to settle into a daily routine and find out how to set up a household together with their opposite personalities and outlooks on life. Throw in a visit by her mother and an eccentric upstairs neighbor, and Corie and Paul have to figure out how to work out their relationship.

“This is a great little play,” said J.C. Crider, director. “Real life hits all at one time, and it’s funny.”

The six-person cast is a mix of veterans and newcomers as well as some who’ve done the show before.

Jeanne Webb, who plays Corie’s mother, played the same role nearly two years ago when Fort Gordon Dinner Theatre put on the show.

Essignmann was the assistant stage manager for that production, and she said that’s where the show began its appeal for her, and she can’t wait to bring Corie to life.

“I’m so excited,” she said.

Barefoot in the Park will be staged at 7:30 p.m. July 14, 15, 21 and 22 and at 3 p.m. July 22. Tickets are $20 for adults; $17 ages 60 years old and older, $12 for students and $7 for children under 12 years old.

For more information, call (803) 648-1438 or visit aikencommunityplayhouse.com.

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