Parker Arts Presents Neil Simon's THE ODD COUPLE
The late great Neil Simon, whom passed away last year in August at the age of 91, was a playwright and comedy genius known for his works on the stage and screen alike. One of the most enduring stories he created is The Odd Couple in which an uptight, neat freak named Felix and an easygoing, slob named Oscar both find themselves divorced from their respective wives and living together as reluctant roommates. The Odd Couple has ignited laughter everywhere from Broadway and film, to a legendary TV series...
"This was always one of my favorites and it probably goes back to growing up in the 60's and 70's." reminisces Brian Walker-Smith (the actor performing as Oscar in the upcoming Parker Arts production), "I can remember sitting around with my parents and watching the old sitcom of the Odd Couple with Jack Klugman and Tony Randall. So for me there is a bond with this show with my parents as well."
The list of hilarious adaptations of Neil Simon's classic goes on and on. From March 8th through 17th, Parker Arts will present its own production of The Odd Couple which will harken back to the original version set in 1965.
Christopher Willard, the director of the production showing at The Schoolhouse Theater, remarked, "The choice to keep the show in its original setting of 1965 gives us a chance to look back on an era when a change in American mores and manners was in full swing, especially in regards to 'the male animal' and the anxiety he felt finding his place in this shifting landscape."
The character of Oscar is a caged and cooped-up man who still desperately wants to be a player but fears seeing life's myriad of possibilities disappear before him. When asked about how he relates to his character in the show, actor Brian Walker-Smith answered, "Well, it would have been a LOT harder for me to play Felix. I would say that Oscar and I are similar in many ways. We both deflect difficult situations with humor. We both love our friends very much. We both have big hearts, often hidden under a gruff personality. Oh Yeah... We are also both kind of slobs. Although I am not as bad as Oscar, I am also nowhere near the Felix Ungar spectrum of cleanliness."
Walker-Smith earned a BA in Theater Acting and Directing from the University of Northern Colorado. He is a former member of Actors Equity and spent more than a decade at the now defunct Country Dinner Playhouse. He has been acting and directing theater for more than 30 years now. His most recent work was as one of the lead roles in Vintage Theatre's production of "Honeymoon In Vegas. The Odd Couple will be his second time performing on a Parker Arts stage as he shaved his head and played Daddy Warbucks in "Annie" a few years previously.
In The Odd Couple, Oscar's chance at a second childhood is interrupted by the introduction of his new "wife", the uptight, neat-freak, Felix. Damon Guerrasio, whom will be performing as Felix, gave insight into his connection to the character as well, saying, "I'm definitely as neurotic as Felix, however... sadly... not as tidy. I've been married and divorced, but no kids. I have a lot of love and sympathy for Felix as we are both prone to rely on the people we love (and whom love us) for infinite, albeit begrudging, patience."
Guerrasio garnered his acting training at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts and through Visionbox Intensive and Bill Howey Acting Workshops. He has performed on television, film, and a large number of theater productions. His most recent appearance on the stage was in the Miners Alley Playhouse production of "Lost in Yonkers" (another work by Neil Simon) as Uncle Louie. The Odd Couple won't be his first time working with director Christopher Willard, nor with Parker Arts, as he has taken on the role of Bob Cratchit in "A Christmas Carol" at the PACE Center in the past.
"I'm a huge Neil Simon fan." Guerrasio remarks, "He was my favorite playwright growing up and he still remains one of my most influential artistic inspirations. I first performed Neil Simon in Highschool with the play Rumors but was in love with his work far earlier having always had a special place in my heart for Eugene Morris Jerome, his main character from Brighton Beach Memoirs and Biloxi Blues. I'm also a big fan of director Chris Willard's work. We've worked together on several projects and I jumped at the chance to work with him again."
The humor of The Odd Couple is rooted in watching the two characters of Oscar and Felix turn each other into irreconcilable caricatures of themselves. What's even funnier, is the play is grounded in truth. The story is based on a real incident that happened to Simon's brother Danny and the humorous observations Neil made watching two grown men hilariously cohabit together in order to save on the cost of their alimony. Simon famously commented that Oscar and Felix are two men who are having the exact same fight with each other that they are having with their ex-wives.
ABOUT PARKER ARTS
PARKER ARTS encompasses the many facilities and events that The Town of Parker's Cultural Department oversees, including a wide variety of local, regional, national and international cultural, arts, scientific and educational programming and rentals. The PACE Center is home to a 536-seat theater, 250-seat amphitheater, Bellco art gallery, event room, dance studio, culinary kitchen, and several classrooms. The historic Schoolhouse on Mainstreet houses an intimate 200-seat theater, small art gallery, and vintage classrooms. The century-old Ruth Memorial Chapel is on the National Register of Historic Places, and is the perfect setting for small wedding, church groups or quiet meetings. Discovery Park, located next to Parker's library, the park and plaza on Mainstreet and Pine Drive is a unique destination. With interactive fountains in the summer, a vibrant ice trail in the winter, and performances and events throughout the year, the 1.5 acre park promises to be a four season community gathering place. For more information about Parker Arts, visit www.ParkerArts.org.