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Shannon Hoyt —


Barefoot in the Park is the finale of four musicals and play productions performed by the Menomonie Theater Guild (MTG) this year.


Writing a story on the play’s plot alone wouldn’t prove to be interesting. However, backstage, new scenes arise.  Ones that are more intimate; telling a story about the actors involved.


The “inside joke”


Josie Salzman, a University of Wisconsin–Stout alumnus, and her role, Corie Batter, become one and the same, as the relationship between actress and character parallel in perspective and personality.


“We have a little running joke that I kind of am Corie,” said Salzman.


Corie Bratter is a young newlywed with a keen outlook on the world surrounding her small, rundown “love nest.” She lives in the moment, ignoring the outcomes that may result from her fantastic decisions, which include walking barefoot in 17-degree weather.  


Though Salzman may not run around sockless in freezing temperatures, she can see herself in her character, and relates Corie and Paul’s relationship to her own real-time romance.   

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Numbing the nerves


Actors and actresses are bound to develop a shaky hand. Having said that, a little sedative may deem rational.


A stage kiss is one thing. A stage kiss when you have a boyfriend, well, that’s an entirely new story. When Salzman received the role, she knew she would have to pucker up. However, when the time came to lock lips with her co-star, Anthony Madland, her nerves hankered for relief.


“I got really nervous, and to offset that, I totally did something that I don’t approve of. I went out and had a drink before rehearsal,” said Salzman.


This was a one-time occurrence. However, Salzman does make sure to bring along a toothbrush and toothpaste.


The buzzword


While experiencing the production through working the stagecraft, the cast found common ground.


Nan Becker, who plays Ethel Banks, Corie’s mother, defined the purpose of the story as, “kind of loving each other through things.”


However, backstage, one term in particular arose: mindfulness, which counteracts the classic romantic message. Just as Corie eagerly expounds, the audience and cast must learn to live in the moment.


“There are some elements that you will certainly have to suspend your disbelief for, like basically any stage play,” said Director, Kelan Smith. “But anyone can relate to the show.”


“It’s sort of a bigger version of real life.”

The performances will be April 29, 30 and May 6, 7 at 7:30 p.m. and May 1, 8 at 2 p.m. in the Mabel Tainter theater. Tickets are $15 for adults and $12 for seniors/students.



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