We’ve all heard that misery loves company, but in the case of The Odd Couple, misery also loves an audience!
Cranbrook Community Theatre brings Neil Simon’s most famous work to the stage next month with both new and veteran local acting talent. Bob Wakulich is gruff, easygoing and sarcastic as Oscar Madison, a sportswriter whose financial and marital failures are exemplified in his sloppy appearance and garbage-filled apartment. A recent divorcee, Oscar is lovable but impossible to live with – a situation his best friend Felix Ungar suddenly finds very familiar.
We are introduced to Felix by the verbal jabs and barbs of his buddies, the poker players who pull up their chairs to Oscar’s table every Friday night. These quick-witted pals (played by Alexander Gilmour, Barry Borgstrom, Randy Tapp and Barry Coulter) deliver endless one-liners in their protest of the stifling heat, the state of Oscar’s foul apartment and the women in their lives. When Felix fails to show up for their weekly game, he becomes the topic of conversation and these long-time pals endlessly poke fun at him too. Still, there is a true sense of comradery and friendship between these men who commiserate about their lives, loves and losses over old potato chips and rotten sandwiches. Once it is discovered that Felix has gone missing after his wife kicked him out and is quite possibly on the verge of taking his own life, they become genuinely worried. When Felix shows up at Oscar’s apartment and the extent of his intentions are shown, panic sets in and the gang works together in frantic, frenzied hilarity to save Felix from himself. Oscar, the reluctant savior, invites Felix to stay with him and this is when the audience really sees the dynamic energy between these two actors.
Pictured: Peter Schalk as Felix Unger and Bob Wakulich as Oscar Madison
Thanks to the poker players, we hardly need an introduction to Felix, played by Peter Schalk. Felix is a “nutty” hypochondriac; if it’s not his allergies, it’s his “tenseness” and alleged bursitis. There is always something wrong with Felix, much to the irritation of his new roommate.
Oscar is annoyed before the end of the first night of their new arrangement but gives Felix the benefit of the doubt. His patience wears thin, however, when Felix begins acting like Oscar’s ex-wife, a stark and bothersome reminder of why Oscar’s marriage fell apart in the first place and just how much he’s become accustomed to bachelor life. Even their friends notice the difference in the weekly poker game. Instead of complaining about Oscar’s smoke-filled apartment and disgusting food, they find themselves subjected to sanitized playing cards and the requirement to use coasters for their drinks, courtesy of Felix.
Michelle McCue and Andrea Grossman enter the fray as sisters Gwendolyn and Cecily Pigeon, living upstairs in the same building as Oscar and Felix. A dinner party invitation goes horribly and hysterically wrong and Oscar and Felix finally come to blows over their incompatible ways.
Perfect opposites, Oscar and Felix banter and bicker their way through The Odd Couple to fantastic comedic effect. Neil Simon’s most brilliant writing is on display here and it’s not hard to see why this Tony Award winning play has stood the test of time and has been performed countless times.
Directed by Bob McCue, this production will be shown at the Stage Door in Cranbrook for ten nights only: May 6-7, 11-14, and 18-21. Tickets are available at Lotus Books or at the door and all shows are at 8:00 p.m. There is a stair lift available for those with mobility issues. Please call the Stage Door office at 250-426-2490 to book the star lift in advance.