What do you get when you mix persnickety, pedantic Felix Unger with the sloppy, freewheeling Oscar Madison as two divorced men sharing a New York City apartment?
If you said “The Odd Couple,” you are, of course, correct.
The two fictional, but oh-so-real friends first became a hit in Neil Simon’s Broadway play in 1965, followed by an appearance on the big screen in 1968 and then as a hit television series from 1970 to 1975.
Now Oscar and Felix and their friends are at the Lyric Theatre in production that opens Friday, April 5.
Directed by Larry Mathis, the eight-member cast consists of Ben Cox (Oscar), Matthew McNeese (Felix), Jill Underwood (Gwendolyn Pigeon), Alisa Hinton (Cecily Pigeon), Austin Bynum (Speed), Joe Dennis (Murray), Frank Nelson (Roy) and Paul Underwood (Vinnie).
Kris Henry is the stage manager and assistant director. The set was built by Jimmy Henry and Randy Harkey.
“I would say it’s 100 percent comedy, but I think most people who see it, even though they will see it as a comedy, will leave talking about some of the subplots of the comedy as it relates to real life," Mathis said. "They’ll clearly be entertained. They’ll be encouraged to laugh out loud, with great boldness.”
If you’re not familiar with the premise of “The Odd Couple,” a synopsis printed with the cast list explains it: the comedy opens as a group of guys assemble for poker in Oscar’s messy apartment. Late to arrive is Felix, who has just separated from his wife.
Fastidious, depressed and tense, Felix has his friends worried about his mental state. After Felix and Oscar decide to room together, it is clear that Felix gets on Oscar’s last nerve — regularly.
The playwright Simon’s humor in the play is based on “adult life,” Lyric managing director Eric Evans said.
“That’s what makes it so funny, I believe,” Evans said. A trait of Simon’s writing is his taking “real life situations — he mike make the characters a little more extreme. But I don’t know if they’re that much extreme. You see people like Felix all the time.”
Show times are:
• Friday, April 5, 7:30 p.m.
• Saturday, April 6, 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
• Sunday, April 7, 2:30 p.m.
• Friday, April 12, 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
• Saturday, April 13, 7:30 p.m.
• Sunday, April 14, 2:30 p.m.