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Neil Simon's Classic Comedy "Barefoot in the Park" Presented by Local Theatre Company University Wits

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Barefoot in the Park tells the timeless story of young love, family, neighbors, and how they all get along - or sometimes don’t. A straight-arrow husband and a free spirited wife learn a lot about each other and a lot about life in their first week of marriage. These newlyweds are in for a wild ride
Colin Maxwell Beerens as Paul Bratter, Maureen O'Brien as Corie Bratter

Colin Maxwell Beerens as Paul Bratter, Maureen O'Brien as Corie Bratter /Uni Wits

This play is suitable for all ages.

Individual tickets are now available online at Tickets range from $12 - $18. For more information visit:

Chuck Fortenbacher as Victor Velasco

Chuck Fortenbacher as Victor Velasco /Uni Wits

Colin Maxwell Beerens as Paul Bratter, Maureen O'Brien as Corie Bratter

Colin Maxwell Beerens as Paul Bratter, Maureen O'Brien as Corie Bratter /Uni Wits

GRAND RAPIDS, MI - The Wits are back! This time, they're bringing to life Neil Simon's hit comedy "Barefoot in the Park" at Dog Story Theater.

Written by popular American playwright, Neil Simon, "Barefoot in the Park" explores the life of two newlyweds, Corie and Paul Bratter. Free-spirited Corie and her straight-laced husband Paul move into an apartment in Greenwich Village to start their lives together after their six day honeymoon. They soon realize how difficult marriage can actually be...especially when it's February and there's a hole in the ceiling.

Director Betz Lund hails from Lansing, MI. She earned her Bachelor's degree from Grand Valley State University (GVSU) in Mathematics with an emphasis in Teaching and Minors in Theatre and Psychology. Lund went on to Michigan State University (MSU) to earn her Master’s degree in Teaching and Curriculum with a focus on teaching mathematics to students at risk. She is currently a teacher at Ingham Academy.

Lund wanted to direct this play because “I am very passionate about this story and wanted to find all of the humor and warmth this piece offers…. it is such a funny show sprinkled with tender moments.”

In the role of Corie Bratter is local actor Maureen O’Brien, she graduated from Grand Valley State University with a Bachelor's in Communications. O’Brien originates from Standish, MI. and is no stranger to the stage, having most recently performed in The Heritage Theatre’s production of “Two Gentlemen of Verona,” as Julia and, Diane Rayor’s translation world premiere of “Antigone,” as Antigone.  

“Neil Simon’s work is still accessible to theatres large and small and has continued to hold its own over the decades to become a classic,” says O’Brien. “I couldn’t be happier to bring the role of Corie to life for the Grand Rapids community.”

Colin Maxwell Beerens is playing the role of Corie’s husband, Paul Bratter. Beerens joins us from Ada, MI with a Bachelor's in Communications from Grand Valley State University. You may have seen him recently in other original works by the University Wits including: Robin Baldwin's, “Marilyn’s Kennedy” as Bobby Kennedy, as well as local playwright Kyle Walker's “Shadows at the Sanford”in which Beerens played the role of Alexander.

Beerens recalls when he was first introduced to Paul Bratters character back in high school, “[he] was one of the characters I worked on in my first theatre class…so it’s incredibly fulfilling to tackle the role in its entirety now, and hopefully do it much more justice.” Beerens continues, “It’s all just as hilarious as I remember, so I’m quite excited to be a part of this production.”

The supporting cast includes Morgan Springsteen as Ethel Banks, Chuck Fortenbacher as Victor Velasco and Delivery Man, and Russ Fithen as Harry Pepper.

There are only five more performances available for this production at Dog Story Theater (DST). Lund says “DST is such a great intimate space and it lends itself well to be the setting of your small NY apartment for the newly wedded Paul and Corie to move into. Since it is so intimate the audience gets up close and personal with the story…and this allows the audience to catch every part of the actor’s performance.”

The “Barefoot in the Park” production team includes Brooke Bruce as the Stage Manager, Chuck Fortenbacher as the Scenic Designer, Kyle Walker as the Lighting Designer, Sean Francis as the Sound Designer, Victoria Fisher as the Properties Designer, Julia Chateau as the Makeup and Scenic Painter, and Emily Parr as the Costume Designer.

“The smallest of moments are noticed in a black box,” says Lund, “and I love that with this show. Directing in this intimate space was rather comfortable because I have acted with the University Wits at DST and had a feeling for how much is needed to fill the space.”

Individual tickets are now available online at or visit Eventbrite. Adult tickets are $18 for general seating. Youth, student, and senior tickets are available for $12. A valid student ID is requested at the box office. This play is suitable for all ages, “you can go see this [play] if you are 60 or if you are 10,” says Lund. “There are moments that everyone will love…It’s a really good piece of art.”

For production photos, videos, auditions, updates, and more information visit:

Performances run July 17, 18, 23, 24, 25, at 8 p.m. and July 19, 25, and 26 at 3 p.m. Dog Story Theater located at 7 Jefferson Ave SE in downtown Grand Rapids.


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