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Community theater to perform 'The Odd Couple'

NOW LISTEN: Oscar Madison, played by Jeremy Neumann, tells his friend Felix like it is in Neil Simon’s “The Odd Couple” during rehearsal on Friday night. Felix is played by Brett Robinson. Also in the play is Eric Seaman, Ware Wimberly III, Sam Hipskind, Sam Kramer, Bob Yaggi and Angelina Funk.

BY Kaitlin Gebby - kgebby@wabashplaindealer.com

Audience members looking for a laugh can watch the clash of two worlds in the upcoming show, “The Odd Couple” by the Wabash Area Community Theater.

“The Odd Couple” is a comedy written by Neil Simon that premiered in 1965. The play tells the story of Oscar Madison, a sloppy and recently divorced man living in an eight-room New York City apartment, and his friend Felix Ungar, a well-kept but emotionally unorganized writer for CBS whose wife just decided she wanted out.

Actor Brett Robinson, playing Felix, is a retired 20-year officer of the U.S. Army who said he has nothing in common with his character.

“It adds to the fun,” he said. “Theater and acting is great because you can get out there and be a completely different person.”

He described himself as an introvert with an active imagination, making acting his “explosive way” of extroverting himself on occasion.

Playing Oscar is Kokomo-native Jeremy Neumann, who works in IT at St. Vincent Hospital in Kokomo. Unlike Robinson, Neumann said he’s able to find common ground with his unkempt character.

“I’m definitely not the clean freak Felix’s character might be, but my habits definitely aren’t as bad as Oscar’s,” he said. “I’m also a method actor, so I’ve been experimenting with it.”

He looked down at his script, whose blue cover was wrinkled, bent and frayed along every edge and corner.

Director Bruce Rovelstad said they chose “The Odd Couple” for their spring play to pay homage to Simon after his passing in August 2018. The theater group also performed Simon’s, “Rumors” last year, which Rovelstad said was a big hit.

In many ways, he said “The Odd Couple” is a reflection of the different personalities you’ll find in theater. In the nearly two months the small cast of eight has been rehearsing, he said they’ve become like family.

“You’re spending hours at a time with each other each week, then Sunday comes along and you realize, ‘Oh no, this is the last time we’re going to perform this show on this stage together,’ and it’s bittersweet,” he said.

Robinson said being involved in the community theater not only challenges his skills as an actor, but performing a laugh-out-loud comedy like “The Odd Couple” is a challenge all its own.

“‘The Odd Couple’ is a classic and having the ability to make a room full of people laugh is so powerful,” he said.

Rovelstad said the show runs about two and a half hours long, and encouraged couples and families to come out. He said the play is geared toward adults, but the slapstick-style comedy scenes paired with its dry humor make it something anyone can enjoy.

Wabash Area Community Theater will perform “The Odd Couple” 7 p.m. Friday, March 22, 7 p.m. Saturday, March 23, and 2 p.m. Sunday, March 24, at Southwood Jr./Sr. High School. Tickets are $10 at the door.