The odd couple neil simon artist note: I am always influenced by the books I’m reading at any particular time and right now that book happens to be Keith Richards’ autobiography. His main focus is always about the music, keeping the band together and playing. As we start rehearsals, I look around the room at the “band” I’m playing with again. There’s Oliver Dennis – we started working together in a show with Theatre Columbus over 20 years ago. And Diego Matamoros I met and worked with starting in the late 80’s. Of course Albert Schultz and I met in the summer of 1983 at the Banff School of Fine Arts, and Stuart Hughes I met and worked with in the mid 90’s. I’ve met some of the other folks involved in the production over the years and have seen their work on stage. Back in the old days (and for me I mean the theatre back in the 80’s) as a theatre student, there was always a lot of talk about creating a company or joining a company. We would discuss how great it might be to work with the same core group of people and how that might help bring more creative freedom and expression to the rehearsal hall. Or as Keith puts it, “We have tremendous fun on stage. You want to go to there? Fine let’s go a little further. We know Charlie (insert Oliver Dennis) has got it nailed. Let’s f**k around!!” I’ve always learned that out of chaos comes imagination (which, as a parent, is a wonderful lesson to learn). But where does the chaos come from? Maybe it comes from the familiarity that long collaboration and extended working relationships can bring. Interesting things happen when people are together for a long time. I look around the room and I’m so excited to be still playing with this group of people and that the band is still together.
Kevin Bundy, Roy in The Odd Couple
photo: Cylla von tiedemann
the odd couple neil simon
diego matamoros & Albert Schultz
Stuart Hughes Director
Derek Boyes vinny
Lorenzo Savoini Set Designer
Kevin Bundy roy
Erika Connor costume Designer
Oliver Dennis murray
Steven Hawkins lighting designer
Raquel Duffy gwendolyn
John Lott sound designer
Michael Hanrahan speed
Jason Browning production sound coordinator
Diego Matamoros felix
Nancy Dryden stage manager Janet Gregor assistant stage manager
Michelle Monteith cecily Albert Schultz oscar
Marie-Claude Valiquet apprentice stage manager Kelly McEvenue alexander coach Diane Pitblado Dialect coach
There will be two 15-minute intermission. Approximate running time 2 hours and 20 minutes.
background notes Neil Simon is perhaps the most successful playwright in the history of the American theatre with more Tony and Academy Award nominations than any other writer. He is the only playwright ever to have four Broadway productions running simultaneously. His plays have been hits in such faraway places as Beijing and Moscow but from the very beginning, Neil Simon and Broadway were a match made in box-office heaven. He began writing with his older brother Danny. Sid Caesar, then a television star, caught one of their revues at a hotel in the Poconos, and, impressed by the Simons’ way with one-liners, hired them to write for his hugely popular variety series, Your Show of Shows. They joined a legendary writing staff including Mel Brooks, Woody Allen, Larry Gelbart and Carl Reiner. They aimed for the comic jugular, every time. Funny wasn’t enough, one of them once said, they wanted nothing less than dangerous, life-threatening laughter. This competitive environment refined Simon’s comic abilities. The Odd Couple like much of Neil Simon’s material, is drawn directly from his life – or in this case, his brother’s life. After his first marriage fell apart, Danny Simon moved in with another divorced man. Danny thought the situation had comic potential and eventually he gave the idea to Neil. Howard Taubman in his rapturous review of the première wrote: “The opening scene of The Odd Couple… is one of the funniest card sessions ever held on a stage.” The play was adapted into a film, and from 1970 to 1975 it was a beloved television series starring Tony Randall and Jack Klugman. Neil Simon has such facility with jokes that he’s often been accused of being nothing more than a gifted gag writer. But his work has always had darker elements, deeper longings. As a writer, he’s stretched himself in intelligent and interesting ways. Twyla Tharp says of him: “He wrote beautifully constructed parlour comedies that provided a laugh every twenty seconds. That was his gift and it was a rare talent.” She calls him a paragon of habitual creativity, pointing out the great difference in time and ambition between Barefoot in the Park, his first big hit in 1963, and Lost in Yonkers, for which he won the Pulitzer Prize, in 1990. Taken together, Neil Simon’s plays draw a clear, sharp and very funny picture of some of the crazy, fortunate people who call New York home. The Odd Couple made Neil Simon a cultural phenomenon – the title phrase has entered the language – but its remarkable longevity is due at least in part to Simon’s less heralded skills. As Jack Lemmon – who played Felix in the film – put it, “Neil has the ability to write characters… that are absolutely flawed. They have foibles. They have faults. But they are human beings. They are not all bad or all good. They are people we know.” Biography A playwright and screenwriter whose work is among the most regularly performed in the world, Neil Simon is as much a Broadway sensation as a literary giant. Born in The Bronx in 1927, Simon briefly attended New York University before enlisting in the Army Air Force Reserve training program, where he began his writing career in the army newspaper. Simon’s first Broadway play, Come Blow Your Horn, premiered in 1961, but his first major hit, Barefoot in the Park, came three years later. Inspired by the early days of his marriage, the show starred Elizabeth Ashley with a young Robert Redford and ran for an astonishing 1,530 performances. The Odd Couple premiered in 1965, earning Simon his first Tony Award. Simon currently lives with his fifth wife, actress Elaine Joyce. The former Alvin Theatre on Broadway has been renamed the Neil Simon Theatre. He is the only living playwright to receive this honour.
Background Notes by Associate Artist Paula Wing.
soulpepper production Jacqueline Robertson-Cull
Mike Keays Lindsey Woelfle
Kathleen Ballos Greg Chambers
Steve Hudak Duncan Johnstone Julia Tribe
head of hair & makeup
scenic artists soulpepper thanks: Sgt. Warren Coffey, NYPD retired; Det. Robert Mladinich, NYPD retired; NYc Sergeants Benevolent Association, Ed Mullins, President., Mar-Lyn Lumber Sales Ltd., PRG Toronto, Technically Yours Inc., Christine Arthurs. Soulpepper Theatre Company is an active member of the Professional Association of Canadian Theatres (pact), the Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts (tapa) and Theatre Ontario, and engages, under the terms of the Canadian Theatre Agreement, professional artists who are members of Canadian Actorsâ€™ Equity Association. Scenic Artists and Set Decorators employed by Soulpepper Theatre Company are represented by Local 828 of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees.
YOUNG CENTRE FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS DISTILLERY HISTORIC DISTRICT