Meet BRENDAN VEERMAN, who is performing as Paul Bratter in Barefoot in the Park. Read on to learn about the rehearsal process, how he’s developing his character, and why you should take a chance on this show! LA: Where are you originally from?
BV: I grew up in Chaska, MN.
LA: Why did this particular play interest you?
BV: I absolutely love Barefoot in the Park. It's been one of my favorites for quite some time. Whenever I talk about the show I honestly can’t help but grin like an idiot. It’s sheer fun – to watch and to perform. The characters are vivid and completely endearing. It’s hilarious, touching, and just great entertainment. When I saw that Lyric Arts was doing it, I knew I had to audition. I’ve wanted to play Paul for many years, so this is a dream come true for me.
LA: For those that are unfamiliar with Barefoot in the Park can you tell us about the show?
BV: Barefoot in the Park is about Paul and Corie Bratter, a pair of newlyweds fresh off their honeymoon. They move into their new apartment, which is awful in about every conceivable way, and experience all the wild ups and downs of married life in a very short period of time.
LA: Talk about the character that you play in Barefoot in the Park. How have you developed this character?
BV: I play Paul Bratter, a freshly minted husband and lawyer. He is very neat, non-impulsive, and cautious about everything he does. He also has an incredibly dry wit and penchant for sarcasm. However, he's definitely head over heels in love with Corie. I have quite a lot of zingers in the show, so it's been interesting finding the right balance between sarcasm and sincerity. Without giving anything away, there is also a development for Paul in Act 3 that affects my physicality. I have been doing a lot of research for it – watching a lot of YouTube and various scenes from movies to help me accurately depict what occurs. (Sorry – that's just a giant tease isn't it? Hmm... well I suppose you'll just have to see the show then!)
LA: Talk about your fellow cast. How do you see their characters developing? Any that you are particularly amazed at?
BV: Honestly, our entire cast is really talented. Cheesy but true. However, I find that Patti McCarthy gives me the giggles more than anyone else. Patti plays Ethel Banks, Paul’s mother-in-law. Every time I turn around, she’s getting funnier and funnier. There are also a couple of moments in the show that are genuinely sweet and heart-warming, which Patti completely knocks out of the park.
LA: Even though Barefoot in the Park was written in the 1960’s how will today’s audience relate to the show?
BV: I think that absolutely everyone will see some of themselves in these characters. They're so well written that you can't help but love them and root for them. And even though the outside factors may have changed, the heart of the show hasn't. The core relationships, their dynamics, and the conflicts that arise as a result are really timeless. Neil Simon has also imbued the show with genuine wisdom regarding relationships, both married or otherwise, that is just as applicable now as it was in the 60s.
LA: What is your favorite Neil Simon piece of work and why?
BV: Neil Simon is of course a legendary playwright, and I’ve enjoyed everything of his that I’ve seen or read thus far, but Barefoot in the Park is definitely my favorite. His book for Sweet Charity is fun. I also really enjoy Star Spangled Girl.
LA: What is your favorite aspect of performing at Lyric Arts?
BV: This is actually my first show with Lyric Arts! It's been a real treat. I think my favorite part has been the cast and production team. This is easily the smallest cast I've ever been a part of and everyone is just plain fun to be around. Also, the Lyric Arts slogan “big city theater, small town charm” really is completely true. There is a dedication to produce excellent theater, but Lyric Arts never lets the show overwhelm the people involved. As an actor, there's a tremendous amount of support and creative freedom.
LA: What is your favorite theater, movie, and TV comedy?
BV: Favorite movie comedy is definitely Clue. Tim Curry, Madeline Kahn, and Eileen Brennan… just… perfection. As for TV, I’m a HUGE fan of Pushing Daisies. If you haven’t seen it, drop what you’re doing right now and find both seasons on DVD. It’s endlessly clever, romantic, visually arresting, sharply written, macabre in a humorous way, and sports an eclectic, excellent cast. As for theater, I’m not sure I can pick a single favorite. I love Noises Off, Twelfth Night, and Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead. She Loves Me and You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown are both delightful. I also tend to enjoy darker comedies, like Little Shop of Horrors, Urinetown, and Sweeney Todd (although that's more dark than comedy). I tend to be indecisive...can't you tell?
LA: Sum up Barefoot in the Park in 3 words?
BV: Love. Hilarity. Knichi.
LA: Please tell us a little bit about yourself?
BV: I'm 25 years old, currently residing in Minnetonka, MN. I graduated from Bethel University where I studied Media Communications and Theatre. I now work as a Box Office Representative at the Chanhassen Dinner Theatre. I had knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus in November. My favorite color is orange. My car's name is Ridley. My favorite Muppets are Animal and Beaker. And it's been a lifelong dream of mine to swim with dolphins. (Don't judge.)