Queen Creek’s Garner to star in ‘Barefoot in the Park’ April 17-25 at Zao Theater

Queen Creek’s Kellen Garner, second from right, plays a lead role in Zao Theater’s production of “Barefoot in the Park.” He is joined by fellow cast members, from left, David Herbert, Fred Gerle, Diane Senffner, Charlie LeSueur (in window) and Melissa Powers. (Photo by Wendy Miller, Independent Newsmedia Inc. USA)

Queen Creek’s Kellen Garner, second from right, plays a lead role in Zao Theater’s production of “Barefoot in the Park.” He is joined by fellow cast members, from left, David Herbert, Fred Gerle, Diane Senffner, Charlie LeSueur (in window) and Melissa Powers. (Photo by Wendy Miller, Independent Newsmedia Inc. USA)

Kellen Garner of Queen Creek has the lead role of newlywed Paul Bratter in the Neil Simon comedy “Barefoot in the Park” April 17-25 in Apache Junction.
The story centers on the pair of newlyweds — the business-focused lawyer  played by Mr. Garner and his free spirit wife, played by Melissa Powers of Phoenix. The couple live in a fifth-floor walk-up flat in New York City. The play was made into a movie by the same name and starring Robert Redford and Jane Fonda.
The show is being presented by Zao Theater, which performs its productions inside Centerstage Church, 3700 E. 16th Ave. in Apache Junction.
The two-hour-long play is presented in three acts. There is a 10-minute intermission after act one.
Six shows will be performed: at 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 17; 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 18; 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 24; 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 25.
Mr. Garner’s favorite roles  include Frank Sinatra, The Cheshire Cat in “Alice in Wonderland”  and the Beast in “Beauty and the Beast,” according to the “Barefoot” program.
He took a two-year break from acting to produce the feature film “Tangerine Land.” The movie was screened this spring at Pollack Tempe Cinemas, 1825 E. Elliot Road, “Barefoot” director Mickey Bryce said during an interview April 9.
The local cast also features Diane Senffner of east Mesa who plays Corie’s mother, Mrs. Banks. The Bratters’ upstairs neighbor, Victor Velasco, is played by Charlie LeSueur of Mesa.
David Herbert of Apache Junction plays the delivery man, while Fred Gerle of Chandler plays the telephone repair man.
Mr. Bryce has won five ariZoni awards — Arizona’s equivalent of Broadway’s Tony Award for excellence — for musical direction and one for best actor in “Fiddler on the Roof” in 2006, he said in an e-mailed response to questions. He is a Zao co-founder and pastor at Centerstage Church.
The play is produced by Zao co-founder Matt Bowker.
“Barefoot in the Park” was first produced in the 1960s and hasn’t lost its relevance over the past five decades, Mr. Bryce said during an interview April 9.
“It’s a wonderful depiction of a marriage, which is kind of refreshing in an era where marriage now has such a wide interpretation,” said Mr. Bryce, who has been married for 32 years to his wife, Ellen. “The story picks up six days after the wedding. It’s refreshing look at how things get resolved, that people do get angry and yell at each other, but then they take stock and get shocked back into knowing they’re loved.”
The crew includes: Bill Williamsen, sound; Sharyn and Hank Sheffer on lights, props and costumes; Rebecca Johnston and Wendy Smith, front of the house; Dawne Smith, stage manager; and stage crew members Liz Wiatr, K.C. Smith, Bryanna Williamsen, Carson Connors and Mr. Herbert.
Advance tickets may be purchased for $14 online by visiting http://zaotheater.com/buy-tickets/. Tickets will cost $15 at the door.
This is the second production for the new theater group. Its first was “The Odd Couple,” presented Oct. 10-25, and featured a cast of professionals and volunteers from Apache Junction, Mesa and other east Valley communities.
Zao Theater is a part of the Resource Collective, a nonprofit dedicated to promotion of the arts. Zao exists to provide a quality theatrical experience in the far east Valley, including Apache Junction, Queen Creek and east Mesa, according to its website: www.zaotheater.com.

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