The Felix In Me

The Odd Couple and an invitation to join the F.O.F.

There are times when a story may tell you more about the reviewer than what happened on stage. The opening of The Odd Couple at the Omaha Community Playhouse offers such an occasion. One reason the Neil Simon classic is among my favorite comedies is that I get to celebrate my inner Felix Ungar. For one night, I am reminded there are others out there who are just like me: persnickety to a fault. Have you ever re-written a grocery list because the columns of your first attempt weren’t symmetrically arrayed? Do you alphabetize your spice rack? Are coasters placed strategically throughout your home wherever someone could have even the remotest possibility of needing to set down a drink? For that matter — and this one really hurts — have you ever put a coaster on top of another coaster because you suspect the bottom one of lacking the requisite vigor for the task at hand? Felixes of the world unite! Heck, I spent the first two acts of the Judith Hart-directed effort obsessing over the fact that Felix’s belt may not have matched his shoes, a pairing that would never happen in Felixland. Turns out I was wrong, a discovery made only after taking the extraordinary measure of sending a Playhouse emissary backstage during intermission to do a costume check. Can you imagine such trifling nonsense? Can you imagine being the sort of person to have even noticed such piffle in the first place? For those who can, you are my brothers and sisters in the esteemed F.O.F. (Fraternity of the Fussy). There is a method to this belt-matching madness. My review of a delightful production of the same work at another theater a couple years ago was built entirely on a foundation of (gasp!) Felix’s mismatched shoes and belt. The tidy one would never, ever wear a brown belt with black shoes. I used that which normal people would never have noticed and constructed a piece that went on to expound on how every other aspect of that earlier production was utterly Felix-like in the flawlessness of its acting, execution and staging. And that’s where things get … complicated. Those of you familiar with my scribblings over the years know I am a softy, a cheerleader of sorts; that I endeavor to find ways to avoid delivering anything but the kindest of reviews. A lot of that has to do with recognition that most community theater is borne of an army of volunteers doing their darned best to entertain you. It would seem unfair, I reason, if such noble efforts should be met by too much negative criticism. Let’s leave it at this, then. A preview night audience provided a steady soundtrack of laughter for the Omaha Community Playhouse’s The Odd Couple. Who am I to nullify such genuine and heartfelt response? Anthony Clark-Kaczmarek was truly splendid as Felix and is alone worth the price of admission. Costumer Georgiann Regan — sorry to have doubted you on the belt thing — serves up lots of fun ’60s duds, especially those Charlie Sheen, “Two and a Half Men” bowling shirts and mod, Twiggy-inspired mini-dresses. Other roles are solidly acted. And Jim Othuse’s marvelous set may be a perfect example of how divorce affects decor. The juxtaposition in Oscar Madison’s apartment of feminine mauve walls and floral artwork against the steady encroachment of barroom-style sports photos practically screams, “A divorced man lives here!” Of particular note was Othuse’s choice to use a shot of Mickey Mantle batting right-handed. Every F.O.F. member knows that the switch-hitter’s power came from the other side of the plate. Indeed, 373 of his 536 career homeruns, a full 70 percent, were of the lefty variety and … Oops! There goes the Felix in me again! The Odd Couple at the Omaha Community Playhouse, 6915 Cass St., runs Wed.-Sat. at 7:30 p.m. and Sun. 2 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. through Feb. 13. Tickets are $35, $21 for students. Call 553.0800 or visit omahaplayhouse.com.

posted at 08:06 pm
on Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

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