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Local theatre troupe going ‘Barefoot’ for upcoming production

‘Concentrated on keeping it light and keeping the pace up’: Five cast members with Algoma Repertory Theatre will stage Neil Simon’s comedy ‘Barefoot in the Park’ at Quattro

For the fourth time in just the last 14 months, Algoma Repertory Theatre is ready to get Saultites laughing again with another edition of dinner theatre.

This time, the local theatre group has assembled five cast members to take on Neil Simon’s longest running Broadway play Barefoot in the Park.

The comedy tells the story of newlyweds Paul and Corie Bratter who are starting their new life together in their Manhattan apartment.

ART director Marc Beaudette told SooToday their cast combines for an immense amount of experience on stage, including two local performers – Jarrett Mills and Megan Wigmore – who will be taking on the lead roles.

“Even though Jarret and Megan haven’t really played leading roles opposite of each other before, they have great chemistry between the two of them,” he said. “The show kind of lives or dies on the connection they make, and they’re just doing a great job.”

Donna Hilsinger, John Howes, and Beaudette round out the eccentric cast.

Although both the play and film adaptations of Barefoot in the Park date back to the 1960s, the director said many of its themes remain applicable and relatable today.

“It really shows what happens when two people live together, and just having to adapt to that lifestyle,” he said. “They have to accept each other for the good things and the bad. It’s that timeless story of togetherness and learning to love people.”

“This one’s a classic,” he added. “Neil Simon’s stuff is always good.”

Since the beginning of 2023, Beaudette has overseen three productions with ART: Tony n' Tina's Wedding, The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, and Steel Magnolias.

While the group had performed dramas and more serious-minded shows prior, Beaudette explained this recent run of comedies seems to suit everyone involved.

“People want to find the lighter side of things, especially after COVID,” he said. “We’re definitely going to answer to what our audience wants. Maybe down the road, we can look into doing some more dramatic presentations. But for right now, we’re just having a blast and laughing along with the audience.”

Each show to this point has come with its own unique set of challenges, Beaudette noted.

For Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding, it was the seemingly constant doses of improvisation. In The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, it was the complex language and countless number of character changes.

This time around, the ART director said the key to success for Barefoot in the Park will be pacing.

“We want to make sure we’re keeping the audience interested at all times,” Beaudette explained. “It’s about making sure the audience is laughing and having a good time throughout. We’ve really concentrated on keeping it light and keeping the pace up.”

ART’s upcoming production follows a pair of well-attended local shows that received a number of positive reviews, including West End Theatre Project’s Jersey Boys, as well as the Musical Comedy Guild’s Legally Blonde.

Beaudette said he remains astounded by the level of talent in Sault Ste. Marie and the hunger from audiences who are always seeking more entertainment, as evidenced by the fact he’s already sold 40 per cent of their tickets less than a month out from opening night.

“I think we’re carrying on the tradition that’s been set before us,” he said. “The fact that we have four groups in town, including Sault Theatre Workshop, is amazing. Whenever you have more shows for people to do, you’re going to get more opportunity to get more people involved. It’s a case of everybody pulls each other up.”

Barefoot in the Park runs from May 29 to June 1.

Dinner and show tickets are $80 while show-only tickets are $40.

Doors open at 5:30 p.m., dinner will be served at 6:15 p.m., and the show begins at 8 p.m. Show-only attendees are asked to arrive by 7:45 p.m.

Tickets are available online or by calling 705-943-9519.

Beaudette noted they’re already looking forward to their next dinner theatre production, Agatha Christie’s murder mystery The Mousetrap, which will hit the stage in November.

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Alex Flood

About the Author: Alex Flood

Alex is a recent graduate from the College of Sports Media where he discovered his passion for reporting and broadcasting
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