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An inside look at yesterdays Odd Couple

The Nutz-n-Boltz Theater will present Neil Simon's classic comedy in February
by: Contributed photo by KELLY LAZENBY Felix Ungar, played by Justin Lazenby, standing, shows disdain at the poker players’ unkempt and disheveled table in Neil Simon’s “The Odd Couple,” to be staged Feb.2-19 at Nutz-n-Boltz Theater in Boring. Seated are, from left, Jim Baumgardner, Dan Wolfe, Steve Miller, Scott Caster and Felix’s roommate and nemesis, Oscar Madison, portrayed by Jared McClain.

Oscar is slovenly. Felix is orderly. Oscar is brazen. Felix is timid. Oscar likes gambling and smelly cigars. Felix likes cooking and cleaning. They're both divorced. They live together, but they're not gay.

Opposites attract. Right?

Not in the case of recently divorced friends Oscar Madison and Felix Ungar, who - in front of audiences in Boring - begin to share a New York City apartment.

If this were pitched as a show concept to a current television producer, there'd be so much laughter the high-rise building would shake, or else it might be optioned as a new reality TV show. But the idea still would seem too simple or naïve for today's audiences.

But back in 1965, this was considered good theater. That's when Neil Simon's celebrated play, 'The Odd Couple,' featuring the disheveled Oscar and the neurotic Felix, premiered on Broadway.

That Broadway run of nearly 1,000 shows earned the cast that year's Tony Award as the best play. It also jumped to the big screen in 1968, the small screen in 1970, was animated in 1975 and then was revived for TV again in 1982.

In three weeks, under the direction of Kelly Lazenby, the Nutz-n-Boltz Theater Company will begin a three-weekend run of Simon's much-loved classic.

The cast

Justin Lazenby of Gresham portrays the obsessive, neurotic journalist, Felix, while Jared McClain of Sherwood brings to life Oscar, the sloppy, self-centered sports writer.

The eight-member cast also includes Steve Miller of Troutdale as Murray, a New York City policeman, one of Oscar and Felix's poker buddies, and Scott Caster of Boring as Speed, another poker buddy, who is brusque and cynical.

Also in the cast is Dan Wolfe of Boring as Vinnie, a member of the poker group, who is henpecked and good-natured, making him an easy target for Speed's verbal taunts, and Jim Baumgardner of Gresham as Roy, another poker buddy and Oscar's accountant, who has a dry wit but is less caustic than Speed.

Rounding out the cast are Christine Lyons of Sandy and Amanda Clark of Portland, Oscar and Felix's upstairs neighbors, the (single) Pigeon sisters, Brits Cecily and Gwendolyn.

The story begins

The curtain rises to reveal a hot summer night and a poker game in progress in Oscar's 12th-floor, smoke-filled apartment in the Riverside Drive neighborhood of Upper East Side Manhattan.

But the apartment is a complete mess. Dirty dishes, empty bottles, half-filled glasses and ashtrays alongside discarded clothes, old newspapers and magazines, unopened mail and furniture in disarray are all part of Oscar's everyday chaos.

Murray, Roy, Speed and Vinnie are seated around the poker table talking about why Felix would be so unusually late.

Oscar returns from the kitchen with food just as the phone rings. His wife complains about overdue alimony payments, but Oscar brushes her off. When Felix's wife, Frances, calls to say Felix is missing after she had ended their 12-year marriage, the poker players worry if sensitive Felix might be contemplating suicide.

That sets the stage for Felix's arrival and the gamblers' pretense that everything is normal while trying to interpret everything Felix does as a prelude to suicide.

After the poker players go home, Oscar tries to console Felix. But Felix hums and hops from leg to leg, bellowing like a moose to clear his ears.

That's when the audience gets a hint of the eccentricity that might have led his wife to expel him.

Nonetheless, Oscar invites Felix to move in with him.

And so the unlikely story begins: 'The Odd Couple' is a classic comedy-drama that pits a high-testosterone slob with a depressive neatnik and surrounds them with people who have their own real-life problems.

The production, staged by a professional company (since 2005 in Boring) promises to offer theater-goers an evening to remember, with some sore next-morning laugh muscles.

If you go

WHAT: The Nutz-n-Boltz Theater presents 'The Odd Couple' at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays and at 3 p.m. Sundays Feb. 2-19. The theater is dark Sunday, Feb. 5, to avoid competition with the Super Bowl.

WHERE: All performances are held at the Boring-Damascus Grange Hall in downtown Boring, alongside Highway 212.

TICKETS: $10 at the door or can be purchased online at nnbtheater.com

SPECIAL: A dinner theater is scheduled at 5 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 12. A combination show/dinner ticket is $15, and must be reserved in advance by calling 503-593-1295.



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