Neil Simon’s “The Odd Couple” opened at the Sierra Madre Playhouse and it was a riotous good time. The play we know, but Alan Brooks and Artistic Director Christian Lebano twisted it up a notch and made this so much more than the bare words on the script. I can’t find a fault in the production, and neither could the audience that laughed pretty much non-stop during this examination of interpersonal relationships among friends and differing personalities.
Where to start, by now we all know the story. Oscar Madison’s wife and kids leave him and move away leaving him to grunge up an 8 room apartment. Shortly thereafter Felix Unger’s wife boots him and he shows up on Oscar’s doorstep with no place to live. Jack Sundmacher as Oscar and Brad David Reed as Felix have terrific chemistry and brought their characters to life. Even in Oscar’s most curmudgeonly moments you felt connected to him and understood him. Felix is just a nutball basket case and he too wound up capturing your heart. His sinus-clearing-ear-unplugging bit was hysterical.
As I mentioned in an earlier post the poker table, played by Richard Van Slyke, Joe Langer, Steve Bean and Vince Donvito had chemistry. It was really as funny as watching a group of guys who’ve been been playing for years, not actors who just recently met. Funny, caring, wise-cracking and FUNNY. You couldn’t help but wish you were in their circle at the table playing poker as well.
The absolute bit of genius was switching up the roles of the “Pigeon Sisters”, the dating interest and neighbors of Oscar and Felix. Played by Kari Lee and Jane Lui was a piece of sheer casting genius. The chemistry and infectious zest for living they brought to the stage really brought the play to life. Typically the two rolls are just simply cast to a couple of blonde bimbos and let the chips fall where they may, these two brought the characters of Gwendolyn and Ceciy to hyper animated life. Between the two of them they capture Felix’s heart and convince him he’s going to be ok. They even twist Oscar around to see Felix for the friend he is. Quite a task and brilliantly played by Ms Lee and Ms Lui.
Don’t forget the contest for “my worst roommate” that runs until May 31. Send the Playhouse your worst roommate story and if chosen you get dinner with this incredible cast! ENTER HERE, or simply mail your story to [email protected]
The play runs through June 27, Order tickets HERE.
DEETS: Sierra Madre Playhouse 87 W Sierra Madre Blvd. Sierra Madre CA 91024 MAP HERE Box Office 626/355-4318
All pics by me.