Monday, September 22, 2014
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Bucks Playhouse enlists community celebs for cameos

Some are well-known politicians, restaurateurs and civic leaders. Others are known as supporters of the iconic New Hope theater.

Bucks Playhouse enlists community celebs for cameos

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New Hope Mayor Larry Keller will play the Delivery Person on opening night of "Barefoot in the Park." (Bucks County Playhouse)

New Hope Mayor Larry Keller can see it now.

It’s Aug. 7, opening night for Barefoot in the Park at the Bucks County Playhouse, and he’s in the spotlight, delivering a line or two as the Delivery Person.

For a few minutes, he’s on the same stage where Robert Redford and Elizabeth Ashley starred in the debut of Neil Simon’s play 49 years ago.

“I think it will be fun,” Keller says. “I’m sure a lot of my friends will come and get some giggles at seeing the mayor on stage for the first time.”

Keller is one of 32 local luminaries and community members invited to play the walk-on role during the show’s one-month run. The lineup for the one-time performances, announced Wednesday, includes restaurant owners, politicians, curators, educators, a volunteer fireman, and a landscaper. Click here for a list of celebrities.

There’s Nick Gialias, operator of the Logan Inn and a borough councilman, and Bruce Katsiff, retired director of the James A. Michener Art Museum; Tom Wilschutz, head of the Solebury School, and Jerry Lepping, executive director of Bucks County’s tourism agency.

“It’s a way to re-introduce the playhouse to the community,” producing director Jed Bernstein said. ‘We hope they’ll bring their friends and family -- it helps sell tickets.”

All of the “actors” have supported the landmark playhouse, which was rescued from foreclosure and reopened July 2, after standing dark for 18 months.

Some have entertainment experience, such as Eleanor “Mouse” Miller, an actor and director of Phillips Mill Theater Cabarets; Bob Egan, a lounge singer; and Tim Throckmorton, a member of the county Gilbert and Sullivan Society.

Others, not so much.

There’s Hugh Marshall, who grooms the grounds and donated plaques of long-ago seasons that he pulled out of the trash, and Jim Gorecki, the real estate agent who handled the $1.7 million purchase of the playhouse along the Delaware River.

Three spots will be filled by a drawing on Aug. 7, from more than 150 entrants. The playhouse staff is not accepting additional entries.

Each of the performers will have one line, delivered off stage, Bernstein said.

“I can imagine one ad lib line,” he added. “Like Marcel Marceau, it’s all about the acting.”

Adding the 32 community members to the show’s five professional actors “will make it the largest cast ever assembled for Barefoot in the Park,” Bernstein said, “and the largest cast party.”

About this blog
Chris Palmer covers Bucks County for the Philadelphia Inquirer. His previous work has appeared in the New York Times and on several Times blogs, including City Room, the Local East Village and SchoolBook (which has since been taken over by WNYC). Contact him at cpalmer@phillynews.com, 610 313 8212 or on Twitter, @cs_palmer.

Ben Finley covers Bucks County for The Philadelphia Inquirer. He previously worked for The Associated Press, FactCheck.org and the Bucks County Courier Times, where he won more than a dozen journalism awards from organizations including the Education Writers Association, the Society for Features Journalism and the Pennsylvania Bar Association. He grew up in Columbus, Ohio and graduated with honors from The Ohio State University with a degree in journalism. Contact him at bfinley@phillynews.com, 610-313-8118 or on Twitter, @Ben_Finley.

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