It doesn't seem to long ago, but he last time I watched a stage production of "The Odd Couple," it was about this same time of year in 2007 at Drury Lane Theatre Oakbrook.
And in 2000, I still recall an all-female staging of the same Neil Simon comedy, with actresses Barbara Eden in the fussy role and Rita McKenzie as her messy roommate at Chicago's Apollo Theater.
A new run of "The Odd Couple," the much anticipated new production at Northlight Theatre in Skokie, Ill. opened last week and continues until Dec. 9.
On Oct. 30, the theater's management announced that actor George Wendt, one of the two headlining stars for the run, was leaving the cast "for medical reasons." Wendt is best known to his television fans as playing the character "Norm" on NBC's comedy "Cheers."
"Saturday Night Live" veteran Tim Kazurinsky, 62, is playing the role of fussy Felix Unger.
Chicago actor and Broadway veteran Marc Grapey, who was originally set to play Murray the Cop, is doing a nice job stepping in to the role of Oscar Madison. Grapey was previously in the Broadway production that had starred Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick back in 2005.
This new production at Northlight Theatre, 9501 Skokie Blvd, in Skokie, it's funny and an audience good time. But is feels just a little reserved as though the cast is holding back a little.
This classic comedy stage story by Simon was originally unveiled on Broadway in 1965, and the familiar story plot remains the same.
When recently failed marriages lead famously mismatched roommates Oscar and Felix into sharing an apartment, Felix's finicky habits and Oscar's slovenly ways make for a comedy clash.
The rest of the Chicago cast includes Bruce Jarchow as Roy, William Dick as Vinnie, Molly Glynn as Cecily, Katherine Keberlein as Gwen and Phil Ridarelli as Speed.
The role of Murray the Cop, previously to be played by Grapey, is being played by actor Peter DeFaria, who is one of my favorites for this production. As for Kazurinsky, he has some pretty funny moments and playing neurotic has become one of his career calling cards. Grapey's timing and reactions are perfectly matched. Kazurinsky is making his Northlight debut with this show.
Once this cast relaxes and starts to have some fun, I'm confident more comedy chemistry will emerge.
Performances clock-in at around just under two hours, which includes a one 15-minute intermission.
The box office is at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, 9501 Skokie Blvd., in Skokie. Box Office hours are 10 a.m. 5 p.m. weekdays, and noon to 5 p.m. Saturdays. On performance days, the box office hours are extended through showtime. The box office is closed on Sundays, except on performance days when it is open two hours prior to showtime.
Tickets are from $25 to $72 with student tickets at $15 for any performance (subject to availability). Call (847) 673-6300 or contact northlight.org. for information.