West End quality production coming to Welwyn Garden City stage
PUBLISHED: 21:49 16 July 2013 | UPDATED: 13:53 17 July 2013
A PRODUCTION fit for the West End stage is coming to a Welwyn Garden City theatre.
The Odd Couple
Felix: “In other words, you’re throwing me out.”
Oscar: “Not in other words. Those are the perfect ones!”
Classic comedy The Odd Couple can be seen at the Hawthorne Theatre later this week, with the opening press night on Friday, July 19.
Originally produced at the Theatre at the Mill in Newtownabbey, director Guy Masterson is bringing Neil Simon’s Tony Award-winning smash to town for a week.
Masterson is based at the Hawthorne Theatre, and his company’s Belfast production played to huge acclaim in Northern Ireland last October.
The Odd Couple tells the story of two mismatched flatmates, long-time pals Oscar Madison and Felix Ungar, who decide to room together to save money after their marriages fail.
Slovenly, fun-loving Oscar (Masterson) invites pernickety clean-freak Felix (Marty Maguire) to live with him and after a few weeks, the strain shows on them both. The result is comedy gold.
The play premiered on Broadway in 1965 and was followed by the now legendary film starring Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon, which then spawned a long-running and much-loved TV series.
Asked why he’s reproducing the show in Welwyn Garden City, Masterson said: “It seemed to me wrong for such a successful show to only be seen for a couple of weeks in Belfast. I was determined to bring it home!”
He arranged for David Craig’s wonderful, but very expensive, set to be put in storage after the Belfast run in order to save the cost of rebuilding.
At a cost of £30,000, the set perfectly depicts Oscar’s almost palatial eight-room Manhattan bachelor pad, and is almost a character in itself.
“It’s not easy or cheap these days to put on a fully professional production with a West End set and eight actors,” said Masterson.
“So, for locals to be able to see such a fabulous production of such an hilarious comedy without having to go into London is a real boon.”
This is actually the third time Northaw resident Masterson has directed The Odd Couple.
The first starred Bill Bailey and Alan Davies in a cast of well known stand-up comedians, including Phil Nichol and Owen O’Neill, in 2005. That production still holds the box office record at the Edinburgh Festival.
Was it daunting for Masterson, who runs Theatre Tours International, to direct himself in such a seminal comic role as Oscar Madison?
He said: “I must admit that it was strange trying to be in the scene with and direct my fellow actors, but they were so good and so funny, it was actually a joy to do, and the result?
“Well, to hear that audience laugh so hard at a comedy line that you’ve delivered is about as good as it gets. It’s what it’s all about. That’s showbiz!”
The Odd Couple runs at the Hawthorne Theatre until Saturday, July 27.
Call the box office on 01707 357117 for tickets, or book online at www.hawthornetheatre.co.uk