Opening night at Francis J. Gaudette Theatre had to give way to Seattle's Snowpocalypse, but The Odd Couple by Neil Simon, directed by Jeff Steitzer, is up and running and imparting its fair share of belly laughs.
Issaquah Dates: January 18 – February 26, 2012
Everett Dates: March 2 – 25, 2012
$22-$62, Box Office (425) 392-2202
$20-$56, Box Office (425) 257-8600
Student & Military Rush: ½ price 30 minutes prior to curtain for any available seat. Group discounts available for groups of 10 or more.
The Odd Couple is an audience favorite, a comedy classic, and one of those shows that both Neil Simon and Village Theatre do best. The cast-chemistry is spot on from the moment the curtain (and yes, there is a red velvet curtain) rises. The clear master of the stage is Charles Leggett in his role as the dead-beat slob, Oscar Madison.
A recipient and three-time nominee of a Theatre Puget Sound Gregory Award, as well as a multi-year recipient of the Seattle Times Footlight Award, Charles Leggett returns to Village Theatre after twenty-two years. He was last seen on the Mainstage, which was then at First Stage Theatre, in the 1989 production of The Taming of the Shrew. Since then, he has gone on to grace an abundance of Northwest stages including Seattle Repertory Theatre, ACT, Seattle Shakespeare Company, The 5th Avenue Theatre, Seattle Children’s Theatre, Book-It, Intiman, and others. The Seattle Times has called his work “extraordinary” and Seattle Weekly says he is the “master of both bluster and subtlety”.
Making his Village Theatre debut opposite Leggett, is Chris Ensweiler as the fragile and uptight, Felix Unger. Ensweiler was most recently seen at Seattle Shakespeare Company as Puck and Philostrate in A Midsummer Night’s Dream this past fall; he has frequented the Seattle Shakespeare stage in productions of The Two Gentlemen of Verona and Twelfth Night with additional credits at Seattle Children’s Theatre. Of his work at Village Theatre he commented, “I have always enjoyed the work of Neil Simon. Much like Shakespeare, Simon infuses the emotions and comic timing into his writing; The Odd Couple is a fantastically crafted map of comedy. When the offer was made to play Felix, it was an easy decision to work with Jeff Steitzer and a fantastic cast at Village Theatre.”
While Ensweiler's performance pales in comparison and comedy to Leggett, their on-stage dynamic works, and services Simon's hilarious script. Ensweiler does not have the same acute sense of timing or finesse to his performance, but delivers a very believable Felix Ungar nonetheless.
The technical elements of the show are beautiful and cued to perfection, including genre and period appropriate sound cues and an intricate set. I appreciated the classical quality of the red curtain falling between scenes changes, coming up again to reveal Oscar's apartment in various degrees of either sterilization or dissaray. Everything down to props and staging was perfectly executed and served the comedy of the show. In all, this is a solid, relaxed, fun night of theater from one of America's funniest playwrights.