Notes of thanks from an Odd Director!
I couldn’t “bluff” at this poker game – The Odd Couple was a challenge, being as well-known as it is and the kick-off show to Elmwood’s 70th season. There were a lot of expectations, but luckily I was supported by a dedicated production team and a top notch cast of comics who carried this show through rehearsals and the extra-long performance schedule. Between benefit shows, the regular schedule, plus an added performance due to sold-out shows, the show performed 20 times over five weeks.
The dynamic trio of Grace Griffen, Jenna Cooperman and Zach Chambers were a terrific onstage “clean-up” crew for Oscar’s apartment, and I have to especially acknowledge Sarah Lung, our intern who always said “yes” whether I asked her to take down blocking, fill in onstage as a poker player (!) or work backstage. I was honored to have Evelyn Russo with Debbi Fleckenstein, a reunion of a legendary Elmwood backstage team, keeping the linguini flying! Janet Fenton is a wonder at creating whichever period the costumes need to represent – in this case the crazy look of the 1960s! Bill Mentz had the look of the Upper West Side apartment set nailed, and with Crawford Deyo’s amazing ability to make anything I asked for, the look was complete. Special thanks to David Julin for providing the New York backdrop for the windows, and Mike Gnazzo for lighting it all up.
I am especially grateful to Allison Schneider for stage managing, keeping things organized and finding the crew – I’m glad we could give you a break on cues for this one! And as her first time as a solo Producer, Ayn Lauren outdid herself in supporting me during rehearsals, juggling so many aspects of the production and helping out backstage during performances. I couldn’t be more proud and grateful to Ayn and all the support team!
In rehearsals, the cast mined this script to bring out all the humor audiences have come to know from this classic comedy, and each actor and actress added their own brilliant comic touches to their performances. I couldn’t have had more dedicated funny-men than Larry Beckerle, Stavros Adamides and Steve Moscatello as the original poker players, and when Jim Harris joined the game, they were complete and performed the script like a well-oiled joke machine. I got lucky with the Pigeon Sisters (!) because Jeanmarie Garver and Janica Carpenter are brilliantly funny actresses who brought these birds to life hilariously. And the wonderful talents of Michael Frohnhoefer and Paul Russo held it all together. As Felix and Oscar, they brought these iconic characters to life, then added depth and humor that came from their great work in rehearsals and got even better in performance. I could not be more grateful that Michael walked into Elmwood Playhouse for the first time and gifted this production with his terrific talent, and that Paul returned to the Elmwood stage in this role that was made for his great comic abilities.
And finally, I am thrilled with the response of the audiences that sold out the show. Their laughter and applause was what I hoped for to reward all these special people – they have all given my heart a “royal flush” of lasting affection and gratitude!