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A Conversation with Designer Joey Sarno

Neil Simon ingeniously wrote an additional character into his breakthrough classic, Barefoot in the Park: the set. The apartment is the top floor of a brownstone building on East 48th in New York City. This five-story walk-up (if you don’t count the stoop), is the arena in which newlyweds Paul and Corie Bratter collide. And often, their conflict is in direct result over the status of this apartment; there’s a crack in the skylight, no bath, a broken heater, an emphatically exotic downstairs neighbor, and (oh yeah, did I mention?) it’s a five-story walk-up. That being said, it’s obvious how important a bold, flawless design for this production is.

Luckily, we have scenic designer Joey Sarno on the job for the 50th Anniversary of The Rep. His box-set design for the iconic Barefoot in the Park culminates all the hard work he has been doing lately. Joey recently received his MFA in Scenic Design from the prestigious program at Carnegie Mellon University, and before that completed an MFA in Lighting from the University of Montana. He is extremely talented and devoted, having worked extensively in both theatre and television. But the single thing absent from Joey’s impressive resumé – and one of his countless strengths – is his ebullient personality. It has been such a joy working with him on this project.

Here’s the conversation between Joey and Artistic Director Greg Johnson, director of Barefoot in the Park. They talk concept, challenges, period, touring, and the details. How can the set represent both the magic of Corie, as well as the staunch pragmatism of Paul? How did Joey get into Corie’s mind to aid in his design? When does design call for subtlety, and when does it require boldness? Listen in for the answers. Tickets for the Opening Night Gala, a celebration of the 50th anniversary of Montana Repertory Theatre are available from the UMArts Box Office in the PARTV building. Call (406) 243-4581 to make a reservation. And be sure to like our Facebook page.

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