One of America’s most famous and beloved comedies, Neil Simon’s “The Odd Couple,” headlines a summer season of theater produced by Brainerd Community Theatre.
Performances begin at 6:30 p.m. June 22-24 and June 29 through July 1 on the outdoor stage on the south lawn of Brainerd’s Central Lakes College campus.
Theater Director Patrick Spradlin chose the play as it met several criteria.
“We wanted to greet the relaxed health protocols with something that would be met with loud and continuous laughter,” Spradlin stated in a news release. “Who doesn’t need that after what we’ve been through as a society? This play is well known, it’s well written, and it will definitely give our audience a reason to laugh.”
Simon’s play is familiar, not only because of its place on the American stage, but also because of film and television versions that are a part of popular culture. Actors of stature — Jack Lemmon, Walter Matthau, Tony Randall, Jack Klugmann — will forever be associated with the work. The story of two mismatched friends who become roommates when divorce makes them single men is iconic and the perfect situation for comedy. Oscar, the slovenly devil-may-care sports writer at first embraces his new flat-mate, thinking the arrangement will save him needed money and alleviate some of the loneliness of living solo.
Felix, the newly-divorced news writer, brings not only his luggage but the baggage of several neuroses, fanatical cleanliness and a need for structure and order to the shared apartment. The collision of these two diametrically opposed lifestyles fuels the witty repartee that makes “The Odd Couple” a standard of theaters everywhere.
Featured in the production are Marc Oliphant and Ben Gordon as the yin-yang pair of friends. Oliphant has been active in community theater for many years in different capacities, both onstage and backstage. He’s performed leading roles in productions such as “Boeing, Boeing,” “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” “Chicago” and “The Foreigner.” Gordon is also a long-standing veteran of community theatre, and has been featured in leading roles in productions like “Seussical the Musical,” “The Addams Family Musical,” “The Spitfire Grill” and “Little Shop of Horrors.”
The duo’s poker playing buddies are portrayed by a corps of theater regulars. Connor Nichols has been seen in local productions like “A Few Good Men,” “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” and “Flowers for Algernon.”
Mike Anderson has been involved in various ways with productions like “Fiddler on the Roof,” “Little Shop of Horrors” and ‘“he Addams Family Musical.” Jesse Brutscher is familiar to audiences who’ve seen productions like “A Few Good Men,” “The Seafarer” and “The Elephant Man.”Eddie Binda comes from a family in which he and his parents have been involved in community theatre for decades. He’s been seen in productions like “Beauty and the Beast” and “A Few Good Men.”
Upstairs neighbors the Pigeon sisters are played by Jenny Kiffmeyer and Lisa LeBlanc. Kiffmeyer is a familiar face in community theater productions as diverse as “My Fair Lady” and “The Elephant Man,” “Talking With” and “Stepping Out”’ LeBlanc has had featured roles in productions such as “On Golden Pond,” “Dial M for Murder,” “Greater Tuna” and “The Sunshine Boys.”
Veteran stage director Beth Selinger directs the production. With over 50 productions at various local community theaters on her resume, Selinger and her husband Dan were founders of Cream of the Crop Theater Company in Randall. Her most recent work includes the direction of productions of “Boeing, Boeing,” “The Long Trip,” “The Sunshine Boys’ and directorial assistant for “Art.”
Nancy Ryan is the production stage manager; George Marsolek is scenic designer and technical director; Dawn Krautbauer is the costume designer; and Curtis Jendro is doing sound and lighting support.
Tickets for the production are available only on the day of performances. Seating on the south lawn is limited to 400.
For more information on the production visit the theater’s website at clcperformingarts.com.