If you haven’t ventured to Covington’s Carnegie Center for a show at the Otto M. Budig Theatre, you’re overlooking a pleasant evening’s entertainment. Having missed the opening of The Odd Couple a week earlier, I watched Neil Simon’s classic comedy with a very respectable crowd that filled the theater’s downstairs seating.
I talked to the fellow next to me who hadn’t been to the Carnegie before, but was prompted by a savvy Groupon offer from the Carnegie and enticed by the Tony Award-winning 1965 play that ran on Broadway for three years and inspired a hit film and TV series.
From the opening lines, it’s easy to like The Odd Couple, especially with the poker buddies who provide context for the “couple.” The guys we meet in Oscar’s nicely detailed mess of an apartment (scenic design by Ron Shaw) at their regular Friday night game are a kind of hilarious Greek chorus.
Actors Don Volpenheim, Reggie Willis, Brandon Wentz and Mike Sherman give each man amusing traits that make him real. As polar opposites Oscar and Felix, Nick Rose and Brian Griffin distill the essence of these friendly enemies engaged in a constant back-and-forth game of slob vs. compulsive neat freak. The cast is rounded out by the silly, sexy Pigeon sisters, played by Sara Clark and Annie Kalahurka.
Director Drew Fracher makes this all work with swift, funny scenes, punctuated with “commentary” via songs from the 1960s like Frank Sinatra’s “Something’s Gotta Give” and Ray Charles’ “Hit the Road Jack.” The actors are sometimes too focused on individual performance rather than working together to achieve the humor of a scene, but with Simon’s steady stream of one-liners and animated exchanges, The Odd Couple provides more than enough laughs to entertain audiences for three acts.
THE ODD COUPLE, presented by the Carnegie Visual and Performing Arts Center, continues through Sunday. Buy tickets, check out performance times and get venue details here.