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If you are a theatre goer of most any stripe, Neil Simon’s popular 1965 hit The Odd Couple is a play you would likely be very familiar with. The iconic tale of two best friends, one neat – one messy, and their failed attempt at cohabitation has been done quite often, from school play versions all the way up to multiple revivals on Broadway, not to mention a long-running television series. If you are like me, going to see this show provides few surprises, so when I do attend this very recognizable show, I am taken by other things besides the well-known story.

Felix (Eddie Curry), standing, sprays disinfectant over his poker buddies (from left) Oscar (Jeff Stockberger), Vinnie (Darrin Murrell), Murray (Craig Underwood), Speed (Michael Davis) and Roy (Dave Ruark) in Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre’s “The Odd Couple”.

Everything in B&B’s production is in good order design-wise – Jill Kelly’s costumes, Michael Layton’s scenic design, lights by Ryan Koharchik and sound by Daniel Hesselbrock all fill the bill. The direction by Douglas E. Stark, is crisp and fast-tempoed. And as is normal, Beef and Boards’ casting of this event is first rate. Filling the card playing scenes are such recognizable talents as David Ruark, Michael Davis, Darrin Murrell and Craig Underwood. This foursome works very well together as the diverse group of poker buddies. And Erin Cohenour and Carrie Fedor do an impressive job providing the zany shenanigans of the “coo-coo” Pigeon sisters.

Felix (Eddie Curry), center, shows the Pigeon sisters, Cecily (Carrie Fedor), left, and Gwendolyn (Erin Cohenour) pictures of his children as he confesses his marriage is ending in Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre’s "The Odd Couple".

Felix (Eddie Curry), center, shows the Pigeon sisters, Cecily (Carrie Fedor), left, and Gwendolyn (Erin Cohenour) pictures of his children as he confesses his marriage is ending in Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre’s “The Odd Couple”.

What sets this edition of Simon’s play apart from others I have seen is the lucky chance to see a remarkably connected two-some in the lead roles of Oscar Madison and Felix Unger. Jeff Stockberger, who plays messy Oscar, and Eddie Curry, who takes the role of neatnik Felix, are good friends in their off-stage lives. They met while doing summer theatre together in 1989 in Galveston TX. Over the years they have been in quite a number of shows together, many of them at Beef and Boards. This familiarity, and the fact they both have some incredible comic talents to share, provide Stockberger and Curry with a presence on stage which shines through in their performances. What I think is most rare is the opportunity this script provides them when only the two of them are onstage for long periods. Then, they have the freedom to fully play off each other’s energies and in many cases, set each other up for laugh lines, physical shtick and other staging tricks. The result is a consummate depiction of a very familiar story, done to perfection by these two pros. And that is the best reason to go see this show, no matter if you have seen it many times before. Mr. Stockberger and Mr. Curry provide big laughs – even in the most recognizable of moments.

Oscar (Jeff Stockberger), right, convinces his depressed and soon-to-be-divorced buddy Felix (Eddie Curry) to ask a pair of sisters to dinner in Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre’s "The Odd Couple".

Oscar (Jeff Stockberger), right, convinces his depressed and soon-to-be-divorced buddy Felix (Eddie Curry) to ask a pair of sisters to dinner in Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre’s “The Odd Couple”.

The Odd Couple, which kicks off B&B’s exciting 2015 season, continues through February 8, 2015. You can find out more about the schedule, and reserve tickets, by calling the Box Office at (317) 872-9664, or by going to the website at http://www.beefandboards.com.
You may want to look into getting tickets for any or all of the upcoming 2015 productions which include Crazy for You, The Drowsy Chaperone, Smoke on the Mountain – Homecoming, South Pacific, The Addams Family, and A Beef and Boards Christmas. For some outstanding savings on multiple shows, ask about B&B’s various membership programs.

* – Photos by Julie Curry

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