Tred Avon Players Performs “The Odd Couple” August 10-20


Tred Avon Players performs one of Neil Simons’ most well-known plays, The Odd Couple, directed by Ed Langrell with Assistant Director Alison Lynch.  The play opens August 10 and runs through August 20 at the Oxford Community Center as Simon celebrates his 90th birthday this July.  He was born Marvin Neil Simon in the Bronx in New York City. During his long life he married Diane Lander, Marsha Mason, Joan Baim and is currently married to Elaine Joyce.

He is a writer and producer. Almost every one of his 30-plus plays, mostly Broadway comedies, has also been adapted into a motion picture. Simon has received more Oscar and Tony nominations than any other writer in the history of show business. He became so successful financially that he backs his own plays.

L-R sitting: Zack Schlag, Bill Gross, Patrick Fee, Paul Briggs, Brian McGunigle. L-R standing: Lisa Roth, Bob Chauncey, Annie Dietz

As Simon once mentioned of his writing, “I don’t like writing for comedians. I like writing for actors. The best comedians are the best actors.”Among his most well-known plays are Brighton Beach Memoirs, Plaza Suite, Biloxi Blues, Barefoot in the Park, The Prisoner of Second Avenue, The Sunshine Boys, Broadway Bound, Sweet Charity, Chapter Two, Lost In Yonkers, for which he received a Tony Award and a Pulitzer Prize, and The Odd Couple.

His brother, Danny Simon, began writing the The Odd Couple and unable to finish he asked Neil to take it over. Neil did in exchange for sole author credit, however, he continues to pay Danny 10% of everything the play generates. Simon based the play on his brother’s divorce.

Sitting L-R: Annie Dietz, Bob Chauncey, Lisa Roth, Standing: Bill Gross.

Neil Simon sold film and TV rights to Paramount Pictures in 1967. Paramount produced two theatrical films, three live-action TV series and an animated series based upon the play. In 1968, The Odd Couple was made into a film starring Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau. An updated version of the 1965 show appeared in 2002 with the title Oscar and Felix: A New Look at the Odd Couple.

An ABC sitcom featuring Tony Randall and Jack Klugman ran from 1970–75.  In the fall of 1975, ABC aired a cartoon version of the play entitled The Oddball Couple, in which the roles were played by a cat and dog named Spiffy and Fleabag.

In 1982, ABC aired a new version of the series, The New Odd Couple starring two African American actors, Ron Glass and Demond Wilson.  Simon also wrote a female version about two women, Olive Madison and Florence Ungar.

Tred Avon Players will perform the original stage play showcasing the two mismatched roommates, a fastidious, hypochondriac Felix Ungar (Bob Chauncey) whose marriage is ending and the sloppy, easygoing recently divorced Oscar Madison (Bill Gross).

L-R around table: Zack Schlag, Patrick Fee, Bill Gross, Bob Chauncey, Paul Briggs, Brian McGunigle.

Felix, a neurotic, neat freak news-writer is thrown out by his wife and moves in with his friend Oscar, a slovenly sportswriter. Oscar enjoys life, with careless spending, excessive gambling, and a poorly kept house filled with spoiled food. Felix, however, is incapable of enjoying anything and only finds purpose in pointing out his own and other people’s mistakes and foibles which is extremely annoying to those around him including their friends and poker buddies.

The four Poker buddies bring along their own wit and laughs to the card table. Murray (Patrick Fee), Speed (Brian McGunigle), Vinnie (Zack Schlag), and Roy (Paul Briggs). Excitement seems to come into their lives with a visit from upstairs neighbors, Cecily (Anna Deitz) and Gwendolyn Pigeon (Lisa Roth), a pair of giggly English sisters. The former is a divorcee and the latter is a widow.

Director Ed Langrell brings out the best of the characters to create a hilarious and laugh filled performance.  The production crew includes assistant director, Alison Lynch; producer, John Norton; stage manager, Rob Lynch; stage crew, Bill Roth, Lynne Heller, and Madeline Webb; costumes by Janet Pfeffer, Barbara Mann, and Lisa Roth; Light design by Skipper Marquess and tech by Tom Gross; Sound design by Patrick Fee. Set design and construction by Lawrie Jessup.

Performances are Thursdays, August 10 & 17 at 7:30 pm.  Fridays and Saturdays August 11, 12, 18, & 19 at 7:30 pm, Sundays August 13 & 20 at 2pm. Tickets are $20 adults, $10 for student.  Call for reservations 410-226-0061.

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