Janice MacDonald's The Studio Theatre Company's current show 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 go through messy breakups of their marriages. It is 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 quickly comes to appreciate the cameo roles of the other characters which include 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 to the mix and you have the necessary ingredients for the comic romp that follows.
Director Janice MacDonald casts these 8 roles beautifully and elicits comic performances from her cast. Playing the difficult role of the neurotic Felix is Jeff Belanger who is a master at comic roles. He clears his throat, hurts his arm throwing an empty cup,he sulks, has a big fake smile when the girls enter and has wonderful hang dog expressions. His moose calls are a hoot. Some of Jeff's other funny moments occur when he supposedly tells Oscar off, when he yells at Oscar for being late for dinner by waving a ladle in his face and when he cries with the two Pigeon sisters about Frances and his two children, endearing himself to the two gals.Jeff does a topnotch job as this hilarious character. John Silveria plays loudmouth Oscar, beautifully. His slow burn and exasperation at Felix's anal behavior is wonderful. John's throwing of the potato chips and the cards as well as throwing the linguini on the kitchen wall are laugh out loud moments. Oscar is always broke, blustery, bossy and in the end good hearted under his veneer. Jeff and John make a terrific odd couple.
Their card playing cronies do a wonderful job, too. Ron Caisse does a topnotch job as Murray the blustery policeman. He commands the stage as this funny authority figure in his scenes and complains about his overweight wife, Mimi. Roland Dube does a wonderful job as Vinnie, the cheapskate who goes to Florida in July to save money. His nervous behavior and commenting on the BLT on pumpernickel toast that Felix made him without crust are laugh out loud moments. John Panchley plays Roy who worries about how Oscar will pay his alimony to Blanche by being a spendthrift and losing money at poker games. Roy also complains about being unable to breathe because of Felix's too clean an apartment later in the show. Ray Almedia plays the cigar chomping, Speed who also loves sports and yells back at Oscar's outbursts. He is bossy and yells at Vinnie and Murray to stop discussing food during the poker game. The two actresses who play the Pigeon sisters, Mary Jane Connell as Gwendolyn and Christine Roy as Cecily, are a hoot with their funny British accents and steal many a scene with their humorous antics. Their crying scene with Felix, their constantly giggling scene with Oscar and their final scene when they tell Oscar off are standout moments in this show. I have many fond memories of this show when I directed it for Academy Players in East Greenwich, RI back in 2005. So for a fun filled evening with a well known comedy, be sure to catch "The Odd Couple" in Swansea, MA.