“On November 13, Felix Unger was asked to remove himself from his place of residence. That request came from his wife. Deep down, he knew she was right, but he also knew that someday, he would return to her. With nowhere else to go, he appeared at the home of his friend, Oscar Madison. Sometime earlier, Madison’s wife had thrown him out, requesting that he never return. Can two divorced men share an apartment without driving each other crazy?”
TV shows rarely have premise-setting epigrams anymore, much less memorable theme songs and title sequences. If the above doesn’t ring a bell without the music, it’s from “The Odd Couple” (ABC, 1970-75). See? Now you’re humming that famous theme song, aren’t you?
So, can two divorced men share an apartment without driving each other crazy? The short answer is no, of course – otherwise “The Odd Couple” wouldn’t be nearly as fun. That holds true for both the legendary TV show (starring Tony Randall and Jack Klugman as the unlikely roommates) and the Neil Simon stage play which inspired it. That’s what’s being staged this weekend at the Palace Theater in Hamilton, where several Chenangoans are among the talented cast.
Honestly, I didn’t even have to drive all the way up to Hamilton Wednesday night to know that Mike McCormack of Norwich would be spot-on in the role of crusty sports writer Oscar Madison – I work with the guy. That’s not to say that his desk anywhere near approaches Oscar-level disarray (that’s reserved for my own sports editor) – it’s just that he’s got that loud, blustery and exasperated schtick down pat. Mark Walden of Hamilton is his perfect comedic foil as the uptight Felix Unger, his neuroses manifesting themselves one after another in hilarious succession. The Oscar-Felix dynamic has become iconic in and of itself – the disorderly slob and the obsessive-compulsive neat freak – and McCormack and Walden embody it flawlessly.
While Oscar and Felix struggle to make their living situation work without killing each other, they’re surrounded by a colorful cast of supporting players – their poker-playing buddies Speed, Vinnie, Roy and Murray, played by Vito Bolognone (Earlville), Christopher Farrell (Hamilton), Mason McDowell (Eaton) and Bruce Ward (Hamilton) – and their neighbors, the Pigeon Sisters, played by Shari Taylor (Earlville) and Jan Webb Guistwite (Sherburne). It’s a terrific ensemble that will have you rolling in the aisles. The lightning-fast dialogue hasn’t lost a bit of its charm or humor since it was written in the mid-60s. I highly recommend it.
“The Odd Couple” is directed by Dominick Pangallo, with backstage support from Kate Reynolds, Faith Wider, Andrada Danila, Kevin Lane, Luke Marshall and Patricia von Mechow, who also runs the Palace Theater.
Show times are 8 p.m. tonight and Saturday, and 2 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets are $12 for adults and $8 for students. Call (315) 824-1420 for ticket information, or visit www.palacetheater.org.
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