The Odd Couple
Nathan Lane as Oscar Madison
Matthew Broderick as Felix Ungar
Rob Bartlett as Speed
Brad Garrett as Murray
Peter Frechette as Roy
Lee Wilkoff as Vinnie
Olivia D’Abo as Gwendolyn Pigeon
Jessica Stone as Cecily Pigeon
Presented by Ira Pittelman, Jeffrey Sine, Ben Sprecher, Max Cooper, Scott E. Nederlander, Emanuel Azenberg
Brooks Atkinson Theatre
256 West 47th Street
(Ticko.com Website for The Odd Couple Tickets)
Directed by Joe Mantello
Scenic Design: John Lee Beatty
Costume Design: Ann Roth
Lighting Design: Kenneth Posner
Sound Design: Peter Fitzgerald
Original Music: Mark Shaiman
Hair Design: David Brian Brown
Casting: Bernard Telsey Casting
Production Stage Manager: William Joseph Barnes
Technical Supervision: Brian Lynch
Associate Producers: Roy Furman & Jay Binder
Press: Bill Evans & Associates
General Manager: Abbie M. Strassler
Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
January 1, 2006
They’re back! Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick, former stars of The Producers, the Broadway musical, and current stars of The Producers, the film, are now starring in the seasoned and hilarious Neil Simon play, The Odd Couple. Their acting is a caricature of themselves, i.e., Nathan Lane being an outsized Nathan Lane as Oscar Madison, and Matthew Broderick being an outsized Matthew Broderick as Felix Ungar, amidst a supporting cast of poker-playing cronies, including Murray the cop (Brad Garrett), Speed (Rob Bartlett), Vinnie (Lee Wilkof), and Roy (Peter Frechette). To round out the cast, two giggling, gorgeous, British chicks, Jessica Stone as Cecily Pigeon and Olivia d’Abo as her sister, Gwendolyn Pigeon, flirt and nurture Felix through his needy, panic attacks, while the extra-needy Oscar builds frustration and steam.
We all know this story, and The Odd Couple has become a political and social metaphor for media and society, since the play became a TV sitcom and a film, two plays, etc. The caricature acting is actually very satisfying, very funny, and very professional, as we don’t need the quintessential, heterosexual Slob/Single v. Mr. Clean/Hypochondriac, as Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau filled that bill on film, as did Art Carney and Walter Matthau on stage, and Tony Randall and Jack Klugman on TV. What we do need is a good laugh these days, with so little on Broadway really funny, and so much in the news really depressing. And, a good laugh we had, thanks to the remarkable chemistry between these two lead actors and the cast as a whole. The ex –wife and estranged-wife, although fantasy phone characters, are even funny in the imaginary dialogue.
The smoky poker game opens the first scene, as the guys worry about the missing Felix, who, it turns out, is “suicidal” about his imminent divorce, after twelve years of happy fighting. Broderick, as Felix, arrives in natty clothes and starched hairdo, but contemplates the open window or the medicine cabinet. Oscar, a bit lonely in his eight room, Riverside Drive apartment, with crown moldings and high ceilings, takes him in, and the fun starts. Two divorcés, one who throws clothes and crumbs, and one who scrubs and cooks. One gives a massage, and one gives a nervous breakdown. There are over-the-top physical escapades, but always with the 60’s humor, which Simon intended. No stark innuendos here.
The Pigeon sisters create a sexy scenario, and their “flighty” behavior is, well, quite British in genre. The poker guys are each superb, with Wilkof’s Vinnie the well-trained “husband”, Garrett’s Murray the genuine, good cop, Bartlett’s Speed the crusty complainer, and Frechette’s Roy the double-taking foil. They switch back and forth from concerned, to annoyed, to bored, to feisty, to bonding, to rejecting. But, it’s the duo of Lane and Broderick that make this sold-out show, a show that actually sold-out the open run, well before it even opened. Kudos to Neil Simon for the rapid-fire one-liners, and kudos to John Lee Beatty for the extraordinary pre-war, brownstone stage set. Kudos to Joe Mantello for creating fast-paced action and dialogue, and kudos to Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick for their requisite energy and enthusiasm.
The Odd Couple with Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick is a must-see performance, and perhaps the only way to purchase a ticket is through Ticko.com. If you need a good laugh and a chance to see two seasoned and bonded pros, do not miss this rare event.