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CCT to present 'The Odd Couple' March 13-22

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Murray (Jim Godberson), Speed (Ryan Kotz, in back), Roy (Dave Zelle, in Cherokee sweatshirt) and Vinny (Gene Galvin) express concern for their poker-playing buddy Felix (Rick Angell, seated), who is despondent after his wife leaves him. Oscar Madison (Mark Pullen, seated to Angell's right) follows the script as the cast goes through run-throughs for their upcoming production of "The Odd Couple."
An American classic will be the next production of the Cherokee Community Theater. "The Odd Couple" was written by Neil Simon, a veteran comedy writer, and is a comedy about two recently - divorced friends - with totally different personalities - who become apartment roommates after their divorces. The play debuted on Broadway on March 10, 1965, directed by Mike Nichols, and ran for 966 performances before the curtain rang down on July 2, 1967. The opening night cast included Art Carney as Felix Ungar and Walter Matthau as Oscar Madison, and the play was nominated for a Tony Award as the Best Play in 1965. Simon, Nichols, and Matthau were all Tony winners.

The play was revived on Broadway 20 years later, in 1985, as a female version. Rita Moreno starred as "Olive" Madison and Sally Struthers as "Florence" Ungar. Tony Shalhoub, now well-known as TV's "Monk," made his Broadway debut, as one of the two male versions of the original's Pigeon Sisters - named Manolo and Jesus (Shalhoub's character) Costazuea in this version, which ran for 295 performances.

Revived on Broadway again another 20 years later, in 2005, that revival starred the former stars of Broadway's successful "The Producers," Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick as Oscar and Felix, respectively. Brad Garrett of "Everybody Loves Raymond" fame played Murray the Cop - I suppose because he already had a police officer's uniform from "Raymond".

Oh, my aching neck! Oscar (Mark Pullen, right) reacts to Felix (Rick Angell, left) as he complains about a neck ache.
The film version, with Matthau reprising his role as Oscar Madison and Jack Lemmon taking over the Felix Ungar role, was released in 1968. Many of the other original Broadway cast members also reprised their roles in the film, which was a popular success and led, 30 years later, to Neil Simon's sequel film, "The Odd Couple II," starring Lemmon and Matthau.

Of course, in between the 1968 film and the 1998 film, "The Odd Couple" was produced on ABC television as a series. The series starred Jack Klugman as Oscar and Tony Randall as Felix, and though the series actually ran new shows for only five years, from 1970 - 1975 - a total of 114 half-hour episodes - this version is probably the version most remembered today, thanks to the presence of television in most homes, and 34 years of re-runs.

ABC tried to re-create the "Odd Couple" magic in 1982 with an African-American version. "The New Odd Couple," starred Ron Glass ("Barney Miller") and Demond Wilson ("Sanford and Son"), and lasted 14 episodes - exactly 100 fewer episodes than the Randall-Klugman series.

Throughout the last 44 years, the original play has been performed countless times at Community and Regional Theaters around the world, and it's still an enjoyable night at the theater.

Come to the Cherokee Community Center on March 13, 14,15, 20, 21 or 22 for one (or more) of the Cherokee Community theater's performances of this classic American comedy.

Mark Pullen and Rick Angell star as Oscar Madison and Felix Ungar, respectively, and the rest of the cast includes Gene Galvin as Vinny, Dave Zelle as Roy, Jim Godberson as Murray, Ryan Kotz as Speed, and Jan Brown and Dee Murphy as the Pigeon Sisters , with Jan portraying Gwendolyn and Dee as Cecily. CCT veteran Jackie Courtright directs the stellar cast.

Call 225-4440 now to reserve your tickets.

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