One ‘Odd Couple’: 2nd ACT Community Theater returns for Neil Simon classicTwo local actors will put their own spin on the iconic roles of Felix the fretful neat freak and Oscar the cantankerous slob in an upcoming production of “The Odd Couple.”
By: Kari Lucin, The Jamestown Sun
Two local actors will put their own spin on the iconic roles of Felix the fretful neat freak and Oscar the cantankerous slob in an upcoming production of “The Odd Couple.”
“I’ve got a couple of big shoes to fill,” said Reggie vanBeekom, who will portray the neurotic Felix in the 2nd ACT (Arts Center Theatre) production at The Arts Center in Jamestown.
Dinner theater performances will begin at 6 p.m. Sept. 20, 21 and 22, with a 2 p.m. matinee including the play only on Sept. 22.
Neil Simon’s 1965 play about two friends with wildly different personalities who clash when they become roommates has been adapted as a movie and as multiple television shows.
Its variants, homages and sequels include the gender-swapped version of the play in which Oscar and Felix are Olive and Florence and the 1980s TV show “The New Odd Couple,” which starred two African-American actors.
“I don’t want to compare myself to Jack Lemmon or Tony Randall, but most people are familiar with these characters, and I think they might be heavily scrutinizing my adaptation,” vanBeekom said.
Lemmon and Randall played fussy, fastidious Felix in the movie and 1970s television show, respectively.
Ben Rodgers, who steps into slovenly Oscar’s (probably muddy) shoes for the show, said he has a fresh take on his character.
“I’ve watched a very little bit of the original movie to kind of give me a starting point, and after that I’m going to try to make him my own Oscar,” Rodgers said. “… I don’t want to portray something that’s already been portrayed.”
This season, 2nd ACT has featured Neil Simon, with a previous performance of “Barefoot in the Park” and “Rumors” planned for later on in the season.
“I chose ‘The Odd Couple’ because it’s very familiar, and I wanted something that would draw people to the Arts Center,” said Lori Dorr, director. “I wanted something we could get our teeth in. The other reason is because I wanted to do something that was driven by a male force.”
Dorr recalls hoping she’d be able to fill the six male roles for the play. Eventually she had seven men volunteer for the roles, and she also got the two women she needed.
The other four actors are playing Oscar’s poker buddies — Joseph Tews as Speed, Joel Blaha as Roy, Bill Nybo as Vinnie and Jack Waters as Murray the Cop.
Cara Prescott will portray Cecily Pigeon and Sarah Cole will be Gwendolyn Pigeon.
Dorr also has a six-person crew for “The Odd Couple” that she called “outstanding,” thanking them for their efforts.
“Neil Simon is my favorite playwright, along with Noel Coward,” Dorr said. “Their humor is mixed with a certain level of reality. It allows us to laugh at ourselves without being intimidated.”
While she vaguely recalls having seen “The Odd Couple” TV show, Dorr believes her characters are her own, and the actors’.
“These guys have been great from the beginning,” she said, praising Rodgers, vanBeekom and the rest of the cast. “… this town has so much talent.”
Tickets for the dinner shows are $20 for members of the Arts Center and $25 for non-members. Matinee tickets are $7 for members and $10 for non-members.
Tickets are available at the Arts Center, and people should call ahead at 251-2496.
Sun reporter Kari Lucin can be reached at 701-952-8453
or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org