For more than 50 years, Neil Simon’s classic play “The Odd Couple” has enchanted audiences with its tale of two mismatched friends moving in together following their individual divorces. A film adaptation, sitcom, sequel and numerous spin-offs would follow as Felix and Oscar became a permanent fixture on the pop culture landscape.
So it’s little wonder that, as The Village Players asked their audience to suggest plays for the group’s 60th season, one of the most requested was “The Odd Couple.” The new production will begin on March 10 at The Village Players Theatre on Upton Avenue.
“The minute we announced it, our patrons were like, ‘Yeah, so, this is who we wanna see in it,” said Chris Jagodzinski, producer of “The Odd Couple” as well as vice president of public relations for The Village Players. “It actually pretty much turned out that way, after auditions. I think it’s just one of those [shows] you can see it over and over again, it’s entertaining every time.”
Jake Gordy and Derek Hansen— who play Felix and Oscar, respectively— are both veterans of the Players stage. And Jagodzinski notes that the show is producing the play as it was originally written, set in the ‘60s, adding to the familiarity and escapism the group is hoping to achieve with this production.
“This is a show that pretty much any theatergoer, if they come to shows on a regular basis, they’ve seen it done somewhere,” Jagodzinski said. “Or they have their favorite version of it. So it does make us kind of step up our game, or go above and beyond, to make sure that it becomes their new favorite.”
Jagodzinski admitted he was very unfamiliar with the show before the audience vote— he’d never seen it, never seen the movie, hadn’t even watched the sitcom. But he’s grown fond of the show.
“I can see the same scene three times in a row, and it’s still comical to me. I love the way that Gordy and Hansen are taking Felix and Oscar. I like what they’re doing with it. And John Henry, the director, is using a lot of freedom to make these characters their own.”
Going out on a high note
For Jagodzinski, “The Odd Couple” holds even more significance— he and Gordy, who got married last year, will be relocating to Florida next fall. Despite the bittersweet feelings of saying goodbye to a company that has been a huge part of his life, Jagodzinski is confident that this show will allow the two of them to go out on a high note.
“‘The Odd Couple’ is where we will announce our 61st season, but it is also where we are doing our huge 60th season celebration. It’s the second-to-last show, we’re just going down memory lane, we’re going to do giveaways. I just want the audience to come and have a good time.”
“The Odd Couple” will run March 10 through March 19 at The Village Players Theatre on Upton Avenue. In honor of the 60th anniversary of the company, tickets will only be $16. For more information, visit thevillageplayers.org.