‘The Price’ at Chapel Street is a fam­ily af­fair on and off­stage


When Ray Barto was faced with the last minute re­cast­ing of a role in Chapel Street Play­ers’ “The Price” – a play in which two broth­ers re­unite to sell their par­ents’ es­tate – he didn’t look far.

He called his brother.

“I knew Bob was a quick study,” said Barto, di­rec­tor of “The Price” and younger brother to ac­tor Bob Barto. “So I said, ‘Can you do this?’ And he said, ‘Yeah, sure, I’ll do it.’”

“The Price” opens with a re­cep­tion at 7:30 p.m. and per­for­mance at 8 p.m. tonight, and will run for six per­for­mances at 27 N. Chapel St. through Feb. 17.

Arthur Miller wrote the play, which opened on Broad­way in 1968 and earned a Tony Award nom­i­na­tion for Best Play that year. It re­cently re­turned to Broad­way in 2017, with Mark Ruf­falo and Danny DeVito in two of the play’s four roles.

Grow­ing up, Barto said he and his brother were “drawn to the­ater” and re­mem­bers the two per­form­ing with Holy An­gels’ An­gel Play­ers as teenagers. Both broth­ers stud­ied the­ater in col­lege and, as adults, con­tin­ued to look for artis­tic op­por­tu­ni­ties.

Barto first en­coun­tered “The Price” in the ‘70s, when it was re­quired read­ing in one of his col­lege courses. It stayed with him, and he pitched per­form­ing the play this sea­son at Chapel Street. While au­di­ence mem­bers may be more fa­mil­iar with some of Miller’s other works, like “Death of a Salesman” or “The Cru­cible,” Barto said “The Price” is both some­thing dif­fer­ent and very fa­mil­iar.

“This is some­thing that ev­ery­body’s gonna go through at some point,” Barto said. “Get­ting rid of your par­ent’s stuff, get­ting rid of your stuff.”

Set in a New York City brown­stone, “The Price” has New York cop Vic­tor Franz re­turn to his child­hood home to sell the re­main­der of his par­ents’ es­tate. Vic­tor gave up go­ing to col­lege to sup­port his fam­ily and is now con­fronted with the past as he, his wife, his es­tranged brother and a sharp-wit­ted fur­ni­ture dealer (that’s the role Bob Barto plays), sort through the fam­ily’s his­tory.

The premise of the show – go­ing through all that stuff – pre­sented Barto with a unique prob­lem when it came to cre­at­ing the set­ting. A harp is of­ten ref­er­enced in di­a­logue and is cen­tral to the plot. It was a wed­ding gift to Vic­tor’s par­ents, and his mother had a ta­lent for mu­sic.

It’s cer­tainly one of the more chal­leng­ing set pieces Barto has been tasked with find­ing. So he got in touch with The Brandy­wine Harp Orches­tra. Harpist Janet Wit­man founded the ensem­ble in 2000. To­day, the group has a dozen harpers and pulls ta­lent from Penn­syl­va­nia, Delaware and Mar yland.

“I was not fa­mil­iar with them at all. It was to­tally a shot in the dark. I was ac­tu­ally think­ing of build­ing a harp,” said Barto, adding he quickly dis­cov­ered on­line that mak­ing a harp would cost more than his bud­get would al­low.

The ensem­ble is now loan­ing the the­ater a harp for the stage and will also pro­vide mu­sic for the 8 p.m. per­for­mances tonight and Feb. 16. Harpists may per­form other dates, de­pend­ing on avail­abil­ity, Barto added.

Tick­ets for “The Price” cost be­tween $5 and $18. For more in­for­ma­tion, visit http:// chapel­street­play­ers.org/ or call (302) 3682248.


Dan Tucker and Curt King ap­pear in “The Price” by Arthur Miller at Chapel Street Play­ers.

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