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Brookhaven Little Theatre presents ‘The Odd Couple’

A complicated relationship between two close friends offers comedic relief to audiences in the upcoming Brookhaven Little Theatre production of “The Odd Couple.”

The play, written by Neil Simon, originally premiered on Broadway in 1965 and, later, in film and television. The story revolves around two mismatched roommates — the tidy, uptight Felix Ungar and the less organized, easygoing Oscar Madison.

Brookhaven Little Theatre’s version will take place Feb. 9-11 and 16-18. Friday and Saturday performances are 7:30 p.m. and the Sunday matinees are at 2 p.m.

Doug Hoy, the play’s director and actor (Oscar Madison), said he suggested the idea of “The Odd Couple” to the theater because it covers subject matter and pokes fun of many areas that audiences can identify with.

“Despite its roots in the 1960s, ‘The Odd Couple’ is timeless, as is any great writing that offers insights into marriage, relationships, workday stress and the dynamics of oil and water mixing on stage,” Hoy said.

In the play, Felix Unger, who is a journalist, is thrown out by his wife and moves in with his friend Oscar Madison, a fellow writer in the sports arena. The two occupy a spacious apartment in New York City. Oscar’s life is laden with careless spending, gambling and a messy house, but he seems to enjoy life with a sense of carelessness. On the other hand, Felix has trouble finding enjoyment in anything. It seems the only pleasure he finds is in pointing out his own and other people’s mistakes. Additionally, Felix’s depression over his failing marriage not only puts a dark cloud over Oscar, but also interferes with Oscar’s plans to romance the two British sisters, Cecily and Gwendolyn Pigeon, who live in the apartment above them.

The result is a complicated relationship with an annoying Felix and an overbearing Oscar. As Oscar becomes tempted to throw Felix out all together, he becomes aware that Felix has actually had a positive effect on him.

“The Odd Couple” is considered by many to be the greatest accomplishment of Neil Simon’s career. Hoy said he has always been a fan of Simon’s work.

“I have always been drawn to Neil Simon comedies. He does ‘comedic conflict’ like very few can and invites you to laugh at, and with, characters that are unraveling,” he said.

The play ran on Broadway for nearly 1,000 performances, was made into a film in 1968, turned into a successful network television program from 1970 to 1975, and then recast in a female version in 1985 in which the two roommates are played by women.

In the BLT production playing alongside Hoy, cast members include Kristopher Douglas, Matt Coleman, Paden Phillips, Rich Huffstutler, Geanene Smith, Lisa Jackson and Bradford Carr, who is a newcomer on stage at BLT.

“Being on stage and acting for the first time has its nerve wracking moments but the cast has been very helpful making me feel at home,” Carr said. “I would recommend to others out there who are considering trying out or joining the backstage crew for shows to follow through and do it.”

Hoy said in addition to newcomers like Carr, the cast brings experienced actors back to the stage as well.

“This cast is a great mix of seasoned veterans and those making their first appearance on the stage,” he said. “Getting this play together, as with any production, has had its challenges but our cast has come together and bonded as if they were lifelong friends.”

Later in the season, as the featured May musical, BLT will present “Peter Pan” with one of its largest casts all year. Then, in June, the acting group named BLTeens will take the stage with “Grease Jr.” and the summer drama camp will be “The Lion King.”

For more information on all ticket sales and upcoming auditions, visit www.brookhavenlittletheatre.com or visit facebook.com and search Brookhaven Little Theatre.

Story by JoAnna Sproles