Theatre Mirror Reviews - "The Odd Couple"

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entire contents copyright 2009 by Tony Annicone

"The Odd Couple"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

The second show of MMAS's season is Neil Simon's "The Odd Couple". It is a timeless classic that focuses on the relationship between two friends trying to restart their lives after they both go through messy breakups of their marriages. It also a serious story of friendship and how bonds can be tested and even broken if not handled with care. It is the well known story of sloppy Oscar Madison taking in cleaning fanatic Felix Ungar after his wife Frances throws him out of the house.The story focuses on its two main characters but the audience rapidly comes to appreciate the cameo roles of the other characters. It also includes their poker playing buddies, Murray, the cop, Speed, the cigar smoker, Roy, Oscar's accountant and Vinnie, the sandwich eater. Throw in the scene stealing British Pigeon sisters and you have the necessary ingredients for the comic romp that follows.

Director Neil Colvin chooses the best performers for these 8 roles. He gives them wonderful characterizations and shtick to do bringing out the full potential of his performers.Neil blocks the show very well especially when they chase Felix all over the place and Oscar throws a glass of water in his face.The beautiful set is by Gary Poholek with Ken Butler and Glenn Fournier doing the art work with a background of New York being very impressive. Stage manager Maggie Nichols keeps things running smoothly all night long. (She recently played the role of Bella in their "Lost in Yonkers".)The costumes are by Ann-Marie Lambert. Kevin Mischley handles the difficult role of the neurotic, Felix. He clears his throat, hurts his arm throwing an empty glass, he sulks,has a big fake grin when the girls enter and has wonderful hang dog expressions. Kevin's Felix tells off Oscar in a very funny scene but his funniest scenes are when he yells at Oscar for being late for dinner while waving his ladle around at him, when he catches Gwen's cigarette in his lighter and when he cries with the two sisters about Frances and his two children,endearing himself to them. Kevin does a dynamite job in this role and earns many laughs with his comic portrayal.(I last reviewed Kevin as Julian Marsh in "42nd Street" in June.) Bill Roberts plays the loudmouth Oscar beautifully. His slow burn and exasperation at Felix's anal behavior is topnotch. Bill's throwing of the potato chips and the cards, telling off Felix in the last scene and his throwing of the linguini on the kitchen wall are hilarious. Oscar is always broke, blustery, bossy, and in the end good hearted under his veneer. (I last reviewed Bill as Caiphas in "Jesus Christ Superstar" last summer.) He and Kevin make a very good odd couple indeed.

Their card playing cronies bring their characters to life, making it easy for the audience to figure out who is who doing a wonderful job while doing so. Richard Stiles does a beautiful job as Murray, the blustery policeman. He commands the stage as this funny authority figure in his scenes. Billy Castro does an excellent job as Vinnie, the cheapskate who goes to Florida in July to save money. His nervous behavior and commenting on the BLT on toasted pumpernickel that Felix made him without the crust is hysterical. His line delivery is topnotch. I directed Billy in this show as Roy. Steve Valdez plays Roy, who worries about how Oscar will pay his alimony to Blanche by being a spendthrift and losing his money at the poker games. Roy complains in the second act when he can't breathe in the too clean apartment that Felix has created. David Butler(Ken's brother) who recently returned to the Mansfield area after spending six years in Ireland,plays cigar chomping Speed who also loves sports and yells back at Oscar's outbursts. He is bossy and yells at Murray and Vinnie to stop discussing food during the poker game.The two actresses who play the Pigeon sisters, Michelle Monti as Gwendolyn and Colleen Johnson as Cecily, are a hoot with their perfect British accents and they steal the scene with their humorous antics. Their crying scene with Felix, their giggling on the couch while talking to Oscar and their final scene where they tell Oscar off are standout moments in this show. I have fond memories of this show when I directed it back in 2005 for Academy Players in East Greenwich, RI. So for an excellent evening of comedy at its best, be sure to catch this well known show before time runs out.

"The Odd Couple" (23 October - 8 November)
MMAS
Blackbox Theatre, 377 North Main Street, MANSFIELD MA
1 (508) 339-2822

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