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'Odd Couple' promises laughs at Geyer theater

| Saturday, June 16, 2012, 10:13 p.m.

Actors and Artists of Fayette County will explore the humorous side of divorce in its upcoming production of Neil Simon's "The Odd Couple."

Director Michael Rohlf had wanted to stage the play for some time. He said when he saw actors Brad Geyer and Roger Rhodes clowning around, he knew that they would play well against each other on stage, and he cast them respectively as Felix Unger and Oscar Maddison.

The play will be presented Thursday through Saturday at the Geyer Performing Arts Center, Scottdale.

For Kat Post, director of Geyer's educational outreach program, the play fits well with the theater's mission of reaching out to all generations.

"This play is about divorce and about how different people handle it," she said. "To make tragedy something we can laugh at is an art form."

Post said that because the play is so well-known, it would serve as a good kick-off for this season's educational programs.

"We want to give young people something to do besides play video games and watch TV," she said. "Community theater will add culture to this already charming town."

Simon wrote the play in 1965, basing it on the experiences of his brother, Dan, who moved in with theatrical agent Roy Gerber after Dan's marriage failed.

"Oscar is the ultimate bachelor," Rohlf said. "He has a large apartment and a well-stocked bar and no 'liabilities,' meaning a wife and children. Felix is thrown out by his wife, and Oscar takes him in. Thus ensues a comedy of gargantuan proportions as the two try to live with each other, bear with each other and try not to kill each other."

Geyer of Connellsville plays Felix, a neat-freak news writer. He said he is delighted with the chance to perform comedy.

"I love the comedy that we're able to play," Geyer said. "There's a lot of natural comedy written into the play. There's also a lot of physical comedy that we added."

Geyer prepared for the role by watching the TV show and the movie based on the play.

"Felix is a well-known character," he said. "It was challenging to put my own spin on the character and still keep the character true to what the audience would expect."

Rhodes of Mt. Pleasant plays Oscar, a not-so-neat sports writer.

"I grew up watching the show," Rhodes said. "I enjoyed the interplay between Oscar and Felix because they're polar opposites."

He, too, watched the movie with Walther Mathau and Jack Lemmon playing the lead roles.

"Brad and I have done several shows together," Rhodes said. "When Michael (Rohlf) asked us to perform in this play, we jumped at it."

Rhodes said the play requires many nuances and expressions.

"I feed off of the audience," he said.

Both Geyer and Rhodes agree that for many people, seeing the play will be nostalgic.

"Even people who aren't familiar with the play can sit back and enjoy it," he said.

Post of Scottdale plays Gwendolyn Pigeon, who lives upstairs from Oscar and Felix with her sister, Cecily. She said she's happy to bring a female perspective to the play.

"It's a fun part," she said. "It's a breath of fresh air, to bring a whole new level of humor to the play."

Post also enjoys being a part of her own comedic duo with fellow actor Christy Maroney, who plays Cecily.

"'The Odd Couple' is a standard play," Rohlf said. "It will be funnier and more enjoyable with a seasoned cast of veteran actors."

Rohlf wants people to see that opposites can attract, and survive and thrive in the process -- under the most comical conditions.

Additional Information:

'The Odd Couple'

'The Odd Couple' will be presented Thursday through Saturday at the Geyer Performing Arts Center in Scottdale. For more information, call 724-887-0887.

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