With the sudden departure of longtime artistic director Ray Frewen at the end of the year from Drury Lane Oakbrook, there was reason for concern about what to expect from “the show must go on” opening of the last show of the 2005-6 season, “Barefoot in the Park.” A gallery of new directors were reportedly being brought in for the 2006-7 season in any case—which opens in March with Gilbert & Sullivan’s “Pirates of Penzance”—and Frewen’s predecessor Gary Griffin, who still advises Drury Lane Oakbrook and is currently having unparalleled success on Broadway directing Oprah Winfrey’s “The Color Purple,” has stepped in to produce while associate artistic director William Osetek is directing. The result is a lavishly staged and comically well-timed fresh look at the 1963 Neil Simon play that trumps this spring’s first-ever Broadway revival. Drury Lane newcomer Elizabeth Ledo is a delight as Corie Bratter as she embodies all of the naiveté and hormones of a newlywed wife while veteran Rod Thomas is also convincing as her more conservative lawyer husband. The older couple, too—Corie’s mother and the upstairs neighbor played by veterans Dev Kennedy and Frank Del Giudice—are played with wit and charm and the antics of the foursome are helped enormously by a truly spectacular and clever set by Brian Sidney Bembridge that is a vital component to much of the show’s seemingly timeless comedy. (Dennis Polkow)
Through Feb. 26, Drury Lane Oakbrook, 100 Drury Lane Road, Oakbrook Terrace; (630) 530-0111.