Full Cast Announced for Neil Simon’s The Odd Couple

Full Cast Announced for Neil Simon’s The Odd Couple

Producer John Frost for Crossroads Live has announced the full cast for Neil Simon’s Tony Award-winning comedy The Odd Couple, which plays at Melbourne’s Comedy Theatre from May and Theatre Royal Sydney from June.

Joining Shane Jacobson and Todd McKenney, who play Oscar and Felix, will be stage and screen stars Lucy Durack and Penny McNamee as Cecily Pigeon and Gwendolyn Pigeon, the giggly pair of English sisters who live upstairs from Oscar. Lucy and Penny played alongside each other in the original Australian cast of the Broadway blockbuster musical Wicked. Lucy has conquered the stage with Private LivesShrek and her award-winning role in Legally Blonde, and on screen in The Letdown, Upper Middle Bogan and Doctor Doctor. Penny has performed on stage in HurlyburlyBells Are Ringing and City of Angels and on television in Salem’s Lot, Steven Spielberg’s The Pacific and for six years as Dr Tori Morgan on Home and Away, which saw her nominated for a Logie Award.

The poker loving friends of Oscar will be played by John Batchelor (Sea Patrol, Red Dog), Laurence Coy (Ladies in Black, One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest), Jamie Oxenbould (Chapter Two, Last of the Red Hot Lovers) and Anthony Taufa (Black is the New White, A Christmas Carol), with Berynn Schwerdt (The Crucible, Much Ado About Nothing) and Hayden Spencer (Deadloch, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child) as understudies.

The Odd Couple will be directed by Mark Kilmurry, the Artistic Director of the Ensemble Theatre in Sydney where he has previously directed The Odd Couple and other Neil Simon classics. Mark has written, directed and performed in countless theatre productions around the world, from London to New York to New Zealand, and has also worked in film and television, including writing and directing his feature film Being Gavin (2019) that has screened at several international film festivals.

“I’m thrilled we have such a stellar cast to join Shane Jacobson and Todd McKenney in The Odd Couple. What a coup that Lucy Durack and Penny McNamee are available to join the cast, and that the esteemed director Mark Kilmurry will be pulling the strings,”said John Frost. “I know audiences are going to fall back in love with The Odd Couple all over again. This classic laugh-a-minute play by the master of comedy Neil Simon is sure to have audiences rolling in the aisles.”

In the decades since its 1965 premiere, Neil Simon’s Tony Award winning play about friendship, divorce and misunderstandings has been recreated for film and television several times. In 1968 it was filmed with Jack Lemmon as Felix opposite Matthau, and in 1970 it was remade for television with Tony Randall as Felix and Jack Klugman as Oscar. Along the way several other derivative works and spin-offs have been produced, including a female version and even a kids cartoon with a (neat) cat and a (messy) dog.

Famous duos to have played these iconic roles include Matthew Broderick and Nathan Lane, Martin Short and Eugene Levy, Jamie Farr and William Christopher (from MASH), comedians Bill Bailey and Alan Davies, and in 1996 Jack Klugman and Tony Randall reprised their film roles on the London stage.

Two suddenly single pals — a sloppy sportswriter and a fastidious news writer — strain their friendship by becoming roommates and unconsciously repeating the same mistakes they made in the marriages they just left. Neurotic and neat freak Felix Ungar is thrown out by his wife, and moves in with his slovenly friend Oscar Madison. The characteristics that drove each of them to leave their wives soon have them at each other’s throats in this classic comedy.

Neil Simon is one of the most successful and prolific playwrights and screenwriters of the 20th century. In 1966 he had four successful productions running simultaneously on Broadway and in 1983, became the only living playwright to have a New York theatre, the Neil Simon Theatre, named in his honour. His body of work includes over 30 plays and almost as many movies, most of which were adaptations of his plays. Simon’s ability to write about life’s more difficult issues with wit and comedy has won him a Pulitzer Prize for Lost in Yonkers and three Tony Awards for The Odd CoupleBiloxi Blues and Lost in Yonkers, as well as a special Tony Award for his contributions to theatre. His popular works like Barefoot in the Park and The Odd Couple continue to be celebrated in the theatre world more than 50 years after they were written.

It started as a play and Broadway laughed. A movie and a TV series followed and the whole world laughed. Now, laugh all over again with this hilarious new Australian stage production of The Odd Couple.

Tickets are on sale now at TheOddCouplePlay.com.au

Todd McKenney and Shane Jacobson in The Odd Couple (c) Hugh Stewart