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The Odd Couple, the pandemic & beyond!
By Tim Flanagan
As always, I seemed to involved in some fashion with every play at the Gallery Theatre I write about. So, this will be from the director’s point of view! Neil Simon’s The Odd Couple that opens November 12th is actually two years in the making. Let’s go back to a chilly night in March of 2020, shall we? COVID was already in full swing among us Americans. Of course, at that time we really did not know whether to run and hide or forge on bravely! It was a confusing time for our country. It was also a confusing time for the Odd Couple and the Gallery! As director of the play, I was torn between what we have accomplished and rolling on, and the liability and responsibility, both personally and as an officer of the theatre. Already some cast members were not wanting to chance it by rehearsing, others just shrugged it off. That is the way with a community theatre, community means anyone and everyone, and with it their own personal beliefs, fears and perspectives. So, who was I to say that they were wrong or right? Well, the decision was taken from me when we got shut down by executive order. A blessing in disguise? Probably! So, we closed the doors to the Gallery not knowing what the future would bring. Behind us we left months of rehearsing and an almost completed set!
What the cast & crew did not know is, we also left behind cast members that did not return when we finally decided to relaunch our season! We lost an Oscar, a Gwendolyn, a Speed and a Cecily. So, up went the auditions for a second time in two years, and we basically started from scratch. So begins the second “go at it” for the Odd Couple! Even though the fear of shut down may be only a slow simmer, the play was not without its usual drama. We cast parts and started rehearsals. We had actors not show or call for rehearsals, and it began to affect our timely delivery of the production. We cut one, and then another. We were getting close to crunch time for learning our parts, and we were down two actors. I had to do what a director never wants to do, I had to assume a leading role! It is hard to direct from the stage. You can never really see what is going on. Between building the set, designing the posters, tickets and playbill, acting and directing I often had to remind myself why I was doing it all. The answer my friends may be blowing in the wind, but it was my love for this theatre that kept me going.
Okay enough of the director drama, and on to the good stuff! When the smoke cleared, we were left with our cast, and I could not have been happier. We have Murray the cop played by Norman Askew the cop. Norman is a stage fixture, and has done every job the theatre has to offer, including directing. He is also the treasurer for the theatre. Then you have Michael Spruill in the role of Roy the accountant. Michael’s deadpan perfectly timed delivery brings the play to life. Doug Askew stepped in to replace an actor for the character “Vinnie”, and after a big win in the Gallery’s “Womanless Beauty Pageant, Doug is ready to shine on stage with this hilarious troupe! Tony Jenkins, stage veteran, lighting and sound, and the president of the theatre has accepted the role of “Speed”, a wise cracking impatient dillweed. How about a fresh face in the adult shows? You all know her, Colleen Curley who has taken the role of Gwendolyn Pigeon has been on the Gallery stage most of her life, with countless shows under her belt, Colleen brings experience all wrapped up in a bubbly young persona. Of course, she has to be aged up in make up so she looks the part. Want some new faces? We got them! A wonderfully talented couple landed in little ole Murfreesboro, and became my neighbors! Theatre people moving next to theatre people. What will they think of next? Dale Harrington, my new neighbor was all over playing Oscar Madison. Dale is a natural actor. Comfortable and confidant, his vast back ground in acting shows clearly in his portrayal of Oscar. Jayme Leigh, my other new neighbor also brings stage experience plus a surreal calm energy that has been the glue that holds us together. Dedication is certainly a virtue! No play would function without skill at sound booth and stage management! Along came board member Jennifer Curley for stage, and her husband Tim Curley for sound booth, thank you for your contribution! Then there is I, Tim Flanagan as Felix Unger, the only thing I can say is, if you know me, you know what you are going to get! If you don’t then you are in for a surprise!! I bring it! Good or bad, when it is show time, it is show time!! Showtime happens to be November 12th, 13th, 19th & 20th at 7:30 PM and Sundays November 14th and 21st at 2:30 PM…everyone is invited. You will laugh, enjoy and be entertained by our take on the play. We have made it our own, and would love to share it with you!