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Hayswood’s ‘Odd Couple’ is solid New York

Hayswood’s ‘Odd Couple’ is solid New York
Hayswood’s ‘Odd Couple’ is solid New York
Charles Swarens, left, and Jeff Ketterman star in Hayswood Theatre's 'The Odd Couple' as Felix Unger and Oscar Madison, respectively. (Photo by Susan McMonigle)

This time, Corydon’s Hayswood Theatre presented a perfect New York encounter. With the theme ‘A Taste of New York’ and Big Apple style-street food available to theatre goers, this opening night adventure was just about perfect. Neil Simon’s comedy ‘The Odd Couple,’ produced by Rita Hight, was a perfect choice for this theatre experience.
Bob Trinkle, artistic director and set designer, brings a professional touch to this classic comedy. Trinkle’s direction shows an extraordinaire understanding of comic timing and the stage movement of a journeyman director. The set, executed by master carpenter Mike Burkeholder and scenic artist Larry Morgan, is as stunning as any theatre set in the Metro area. Ken Hight’s lighting and sound designs are both functional and believable. Prop coordination for this show is a true challenge, and Debbie Smith, prop mistress, pulled it off without a hitch.
Aside from no more than three technical flaws and two longer-than-needed scene changes, the production was brilliant. Jeff Ketterman in the role of the lovable slob Oscar Madison was about as ‘slobby’ as you could get. Ketterman’s portrayal of Oscar, who transforms from obnoxious lout to sympathetic buddy in a matter of minutes, was focused and believable. This was an Oscar whose character and emotions were fully understood by the actor.
Charles Swarens as Felix Unger was fastidious, whinny, delicate and maddening. This was a Felix who could cry and complain with the best of them. Swarens’ scenes with his fellow actors were compelling, hilarious and perhaps a little too close to home. (This critic spoke to Swarens’ wife, assistant director Elizabeth Swarens, following the performance who said, ‘ … that’s the Charlie I deal with 24 hours a day.’)
The ensemble cast was a true joy to watch. The poker players were all about poker, camaraderie and concern for Oscar and Felix. Kenny Meyer, who played Murray the cop, was a typical New York cop: loud, over the top and ‘always the cop.’ Speed (Kevin Anderson) just wants to play poker. He’s no nonsense, a little slick and a take-charge guy, except when it comes to Felix. Zach Trinkle’s portrayal of Roy, Oscar’s accountant, is clever, nerdy and way beyond his actual years. Then there is Vinnie, who is lovable, a little frantic and compassionate to a fault. Played by John Hardesty, Vinnie just wants to be Vinnie and have a good time.
A definite crowd pleaser and scene stealer in this production are Oscar and Felix’s ‘might-be dates,’ Gwendolyn and Cecily Pigeon. Gwendolyn, stylized by Emily Trinkle, is just plain too funny. If she’s not trying to tempt Felix, she’s manhandling Oscar. Trinkle gives a smart, bawdy and yet sympathetic touch to her role. Rita Hight, as Cecily, is sexy, tempting and a little bit ‘ no, make that a lot ‘ ditsy. Hight’s comedic touch is a joy to watch and her seasoned performance hits the mark.
‘The Odd Couple’ continues the next two weekends at Hayswood Theatre, located at 115 S. Capitol Ave. Evening curtain time is 8, and Sunday matinees are at 2. Come early, as the New York-style food is great. Magdalena’s Restaurant is also featuring a New York menu for the show; for more information or reservations, call 738-8075.
For tickets to the show, call 738-2138. Tickets are $12 for adults and $10 for children and seniors.