The Troy Theatre and Dance Department’s upcoming production focuses on a subject that is all too familiar to college students: a story about a man trying to adapt to living with someone completely different from him.
For the past three months, students have been working on their New York dialects and comedic timing to best portray the high-energy ensemble of Neil Simon’s “The Odd Couple.”
Directed by Quinton Cockrell, this three-act play has been regarded as a classic among theater fanatics, and any theater student you ask is going to recognize the title. First appearing on Broadway in 1965, “The Odd Couple” has proven to still be a favorite among thespian enthusiasts five decades later.
The show has been produced in multiple revivals and productions across the United States, and will even be a subject of inspiration for an upcoming television show on CBS with the same title.
With a title that has a reputation such as this one, one might wonder whether the production team was worried about meeting expectations. Baine Ellis, a junior theater major from Harris County, Georgia, said that it wasn’t an issue.
“Personally, I felt no pressure in that way,” said Ellis, who plays Felix, one of the two leads of the show. He does, however, plan to make Troy’s production more genuine than its film and television adaptations. “I could only sit through the first 10 minutes of the movie before I got bored with it.”
Ellis is much more focused on his own performance and what he can accomplish with this particular show.
“I have no idea what an audience at this university would expect from the show, so I am just going to focus my energy on entertaining them,” Ellis said.
He is also very complimentary of his director. “Quinton has prepared me.”
All of the cast seem to readily point the production’s success to its director.
“Quinton is an outrageously talented actor,” said Nick Motz, a sophomore theater major from Tuscaloosa. Also speaking her high opinion of the show’s director is Brooke Johnston, a senior theater major from Wetumpka. She will be playing Cecily Pigeon, a British neighbor of the two roommates. “It’s been creatively enriching to work with Quinton… It’s interesting to see how his mind works.”
Cockrell, who teaches the acting courses at Troy University, typically directs smaller shows in the blackbox theater, but will be producing “The Odd Couple” on the mainstage.
“This is actually a larger cast than I’ve dealt with in a long time — it’s only eight people,” said Cockrell, who usually works with casts of four or under. This year is also different for Cockrell in terms of the material he has chosen.
“This year in general has been about comedy for me. It’s been a real experience trying to study timing and comedic delivery,” Cockrell said.
Cockrell is also trying to adapt to the comedic directing style. “What’s funny for me and a generation that is older may not be funny to the people actually delivering the lines.”
However, Cockrell said that he is completely confident that his cast is ready for the show to open this week.
“This has been one of the hardest-working casts that I’ve ever worked with,” he said.
After months of work, Cockrell said he is ready for what is to come.
“I am entirely comfortable with what the actors have done and will do. They are ready. I feel really good.”
“The Odd Couple” is in the Trojan Center Theatre on Jan. 21-24 and Jan. 28-30 starting at 7:30 p.m., with the house opening at 7 p.m. There will be a 2:30 p.m. performance on Jan. 25.
Tickets are for sale at the Troy Theatre and Dance Box Office located in the Trojan Center upstairs, $10 for regular admission and $5 for students.