Story & photos by Gretchen Ammerman
For the TODAY
There are some plays where you just can’t help but wonder if the actors bring their roles home with them, and Neil Simon’s “The Odd Couple,” currently being presented at Lincoln City’s Theatre West, is one of them. The play asks whether the friendship between two men, the lovable slob Oscar Madison, played by Don Bambrough, and the persnickety neat-nick Felix Unger, played Lewis Smith, can survive when they end up living together.
“I had noticed that he was a bit more intense around the house lately,” said Smith’s wife Cindi Tringali “And then I saw the play and was like, ‘Ohhhh.’”
Smith also noticed his behavior was changing outside of the house.
“We were out for dinner and I spilled something,” he said. “I was upset because I only had one napkin and I didn’t want the server to think I was a slob, which is not something I would have thought about before.”
Smith describes himself as a “typical” guy.
“I’m not a slob,” he said. “But when my family was in the audience, I did notice a particularly loud laugh when the curtain opened on my vacuuming.”
Bambrough’s parter, who is familiar with the characters in the play, made a good guess as to which one he would portray.
“She told me that she figured I would be playing Oscar,” he said. “Because she couldn’t imagine me as Felix.”
When it was time for director Rich Emery to cast, he knew just who he had in mind for the lead roles.
“I immediately thought of Don and Lewis,” he said. “They were in Death by Fatal Murder together and their on-stage chemistry was great.”
The chemistry has only grown stronger, as the two handle their roles deftly, whether the characters are having a bro-ment or coming close to ripping each others heads off. The rest of the cast, including first time actor Scott Christianson as Speed, Tom Carlson as Murray, Paul Wilhelmi as Roy, George Weber as Vinnie, and Tricia Chandler and Lisa Austin as the Pigeon sisters, Gwen and Cecily, also do a wonderful job, and though some of the content is a bit dated, the play is still very funny.
The artfully designed set by Bruce Jackson acts as almost another character, as the apartment where the men play poker and solve the world’s problems, and the dance of the slob versus the perfectionist happens.
The play opened earlier this month to a record opening night audience, finishing up the theatre’s successful “Season of Simon,” which included a female version of “the Odd Couple.”
Off-stage crew includes assistant director Bruce Mace, Kate Daschel on lights and sound and Donna Morris as stage manager.
The play’s run coincides with the Aug. 21 total solar eclipse that is predicted to bring massive crowds to the Central Oregon Coast. But Emery said the show will go on.
“We talked about going dark during that weekend,” he said, only later realizing the unintentional pun. “But we decided to go ahead and keep to the regular schedule.”
“The Odd Couple” will run through Saturday, Aug. 26, with 7:30 pm performances every Thursday, Friday and Saturday as well as a 2 pm matinée on Sunday, Aug. 13.
Tickets for the show are $15 for adults, $13 for seniors (60 and over) and for students (over 12) and $10 for children 12 and under. A special group discount is available at $12 per ticket for groups of 10 or more with a pre-paid reservation.
To book tickets, call 541-994-5663, leave a message and someone will call you back.
Theatre West is located at 3536 SE Hwy. 101.