Classic comedy

The Odd Couple opens Friday in Eagle River


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Get ready to laugh.

The Alaska Fine Arts Academy in Eagle River is putting on six shows of Neil Simon’s famous play The Odd Couple starting Friday, Sept. 7.

“It’s just so funny,” said director Robin Bassett.

Every rehearsal, Bassett said the talented cast has her cracking up.

“We have such a great group of people,” she said.

The show is geared toward adults, Bassett said. She gave it a PG rating for language and adult themes. Cast members also smoke throughout the show, Bassett said.

The play features two opposite roommates. After being thrown out by his wife, Felix Ungar — an uptight news writer obsessed with cleanliness — moves in with his recently-divorced friend, Oscar Madison, a messy sports writer. 

The pain of divorce resonates with people today just as it did when the play first appeared on Broadway in 1965 — one of the reasons Bassett chose the production.

Simon’s brand of comedy is easily comprehended, said James Jensen, who’s playing Felix.

“Everybody can understand his humor,” he said. “He always has a great mix of characters.”

Opposite Jensen is Robert Croley. He directed The Odd Couple 35 years ago, and has been waiting to play Oscar since.

“Ever since I did, I wanted to play Oscar so bad I could taste it,” Croley said.

Croley said Jensen’s performance as his counterpart is phenomenal.

“He’s literally the best Felix I’ve every seen,” Croley said. “He did it better than Tony Randall did it.” (Randall played Felix in the television series from 1970 to 1975). 

A superb cast and great script will make for a night full of laughs, Croley said.

“This is going to be one of the best we’ve ever done,” he said.

Croley said the play is so hysterical it’s difficult to keep from laughing during rehearsals.

“We’re all having so much fun with it,” he said.

“It’s classic comedy,” Bassett added. 

Jensen said he enjoys plays because no matter how many times you see a show, it’s different every time.

“This is live theater,” he said.

The Odd Couple will run Fridays and Saturdays from Sept. 7 through Sept. 22 starting at 7 p.m. Tickets cost $14 for general admission and $12 for military (with ID), seniors 65 and older and children 12 and younger.

On opening night, tickets for active duty and/or retired military personnel will cost $10. Tickets can be purchased at www.akfinearts.org.

Contact Mike Nesper at 694-2727 or mike.nesper@alaskastar.com

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