One’s the most successful writer of comedies in Broadway history. The other’s a serious scholar of classic literature, a retired college professor and founding father of Two River Theater Company. Together they’re teaming up for laughs this Valentine’s season, as Robert M. Rechnitz prepares to open a new production of Neil Simon‘s Barefoot in the Park at the Red Bank performing arts auditorium named for Dr. Rechnitz and his wife Joan.

Today’s edition of Red Bank oRBit the details how the professor — a man more likely to be found staging the works of Chekhov, Ibsen and Moliere — came to be “Simonized,” as he tells it, and fall in love with the 1964 comedy by the creator of The Sunshine Boys and The Odd Couple; “a delightful, compelling play that moves like lightning.”

On the eve of the first previews for the production that stars Meg Chambers Steedle and John Wernke (above), director Rechnitz talks about his personal history with this show, about Simon’s lasting legacy, and about how a good romantic comedy brings out the youthful blush in all concerned. Read all about it, right here in Red Bank oRBit!