OLEAN, NY – The Olean Theatre Workshop expects to fill its Washington Street Theater with laughter with its production of “The Odd Couple.”
Thursday through Sunday, the theater company will be performing Neil Simon’s 1965 play, a comedy of two men who couldn’t be any more different: Felix Ungar and Oscar Madison.
The play takes serious topics and makes them very comical.
As Felix struggles with divorcing his wife of 12 years, Oscar, a careless and free-wheeling type, tries to console him and welcomes him to stay in his apartment. After sharing the apartment for weeks, Felix and Oscar begin to act like a married couple.
The entire play is set in Oscar’s minty-green colored New York City apartment, which has one window, an archway and a door leading to the kitchen.
Small details in the set make the apartment realistic. The design is fairly minimal. The living room is set up with a couch, chair and a coffee table, and a dining table and chairs are placed stage right by the window. An old-fashioned telephone and a crystal bowl and decanter help the audience visualize the 1960s time period of the play.
“The Odd Couple” director Katie Ralston explained that the theater selected the play because it is a crowd-pleaser.
“There’s a lot that people can relate to about the situations that the men go through with their families and the friendship between the two of them,” said Ralston.
Ralston, who is also the principal at Cuba-Rushford Middle School, said that "The Odd Couple" is the perfect comedic play for her third show with the workshop.
“This cast made the show so easy,” said Ralston. “A lot of people always say, ‘Work is so busy, how do you have time for this?’ But it’s not really about finding time because it’s just so fun to be here.”
The cast has rehearsed three nights a week since Jan. 4.
“Jake and Al, who play the Odd Couple, are best friends in real life and that made their stage chemistry awesome,” said Ralston. “The cast as a whole is fantastic.”
Jake Rigg, who plays Oscar, started acting when he was 6 years old and has acted in at least two workshop productions every year for the past decade.
“Each role is its very own thing, and you have to approach each role as a new experience,” said Rigg.
Ralston said that the audience will leave feeling good. “It gives you the laugh that you need,” said Ralston.
Rigg commented, “Neil Simon is a very good playwright and his characters come out off the page right out of his words.”
Andn while Rigg has enjoyed every word and scene of the play, he said his favorite part is the spaghetti-throwing scene in Act Three. “It’s banter and a lot of quick back-and-forth dialogue,” he noted.
There will be two 10-minute intermissions.
“This is the perfect addition to a small town and once you get here and become a part of it you feel like you have whole other little family,” said Ralston.
Tickets for “The Odd Couple” are $10 and available online at www.oleanworkshop.org/tickets.html or by calling 716-373-SHOW (7469). Performances are at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday and at 2:30 p.m. Sunday. The theater is located at 702 Washington St.