“‘Barefoot’ might be graying a bit, but ACT is able to keep its charm”

By Nancy Jordan
For the Anchorage Times

Just when winter is becoming something of a drag, along comes Neil Simon with his balmy wit. It’s a welcome tonic.

Even the title of his work currently presented by the Anchorage Community Theatre at Alaska Pacific University’s Grant Hall bethinks spring. The very notion of going “Barefoot in the Park” makes pretense of that snow out there, if you can overlook the play’s setting is New York in February.

Director Bob Pond and his ACT troupe seem to thrive on such classics, however. If the action was disjointed, as it was in the first act on opening night, Friday, and if inexperience failed to make the most of a characterization, no one on stage apparently noticed. This is a group that relishes its fun on the boards.

For the second time this year, Dan Wolfe came through with a brisk, workmanlike delineation of humor. His earlier portrayal as the one sane family member in ACT’s “Arsenic and Old Lace” gave ample evidence that this Fort Richardson army captain knows how to milk a funny line.

In “Barefoot” on Friday, Wolfe had exactly the no-nonsense demeanor that makes Simon’s clever one-liners all the more cogent. It served, too, as a foil for Lisa Carlton’s nuttiness as a bride who is bent on extending the honeymoon.

Wolfe was the bulwark of the show, especially in the third act, when he rose to heights of oratory and managed to give a convincing portrayal of the straight-and-narrow lawyer off on a bender. As Lisa Carlton found out when it was her turn with intoxication, tipsiness can fail to materialize. Or it can be overblown. Wolfe was guilty of neither.