Mar 31, 2011 Russ Tarby Uncategorized
The classic comedic clash of the nebbish vs. the neatnik plays out this weekend at an unpretentious North Side nightclub.
Neil Simon’s biggest hit, “The Odd Couple” stars two of Syracuse’s most gifted actors – J. Brazil and Gerrit Vander Werff Jr. – as slob sportswriter Oscar Madison and clean freak news writer Felix Ungar, respectively.
Produced by Dustin Czarny’s Not Another Theatre Co., the play’s staged at an unassuming, dare we say unsightly blue-collar bar with the wordy name Fire and Ice Banquet Facilities at The Locker Room, 528 Hiawatha Blvd. East.
With sheer force of energy, however, Not Another Theatre Co. manages to rise above its humble surroundings to present above-average entertainment.
Accents and earrings
That’s not to say this “Odd Couple” is perfect. For a show that’s set in Manhattan in 1960 there’s a decided lack of downstate accents among cast members. Even worse two characters, – including Brazil’s Oscar – sport gold earrings, of all things. Those of us old enough to remember know that the only men who wore such jewelry in 1960 were transvestites and out-of-the closet gayblades. And Brazil’s scraggly beard appears about a decade before facial hair became fashionable.
Those period details aside, though, this show deserves appreciative audiences. Simon’s script about two polar-opposite divorced guys sharing an apartment is still funny after all these years, and this cast rises to the occasion to milk the daffy dialogue for a barrel of laughs.
The leads are perfectly cast. The beer-bellied Brazil stands as the archetypical man’s man while Vander Werff’s Felix is rail-thin and fidgety as an old maid.
As Oscar bellows boisterously, Felix complains constantly. Sometimes he fumes in silence, and Vander Werff is a convincing facial contortionist whether popping his ears or pouting over burnt London broil.
Directors Daniel and Steven Rowlands gathered a decidedly quirky supporting cast. James Uva as Speed and Greg Hipius as Murray the cop each utilized Noo Yawk twang. Two more poker playing pals are played by Alan Stillman and David Vickers, who both create colorful characters despite their lack of lines.
In Act 2, as Felix endlessly annoys Oscar with an aerosol can and a vacuum cleaner, the sudden appearance of two air-headed neighbor girls provides a needed flicker of feminine presence in the ol’ bachelor pad.
Wendy Viggiano and Anne Freund seem to have a ball playing two swinging sisters from London named Gwendolyn and Cecily Pigeon, and the birds’ innocent appreciation for the odd couple actually helps save the guys’ relationship.
“The Odd Couple,” runs at 8 p.m. Thursday, March 31, and Friday and Saturday, April 2 , at the Fire and Ice Banquet Facilities at The Locker Room. Couples can dine and catch the show for $55; dinner and show for singles costs $29; and tables of eight cost $199. For show only, you pay $20. For tickets, call 446-1461.
McDowell helped found Eureka
Pastabilities’ happy hour will never be the same.
One of its longtime regulars, Eureka Studios woodworker Bill McDowell, died March 21 at his home in Fabius.
Having graduated from Syracuse University’s art program in 1968, McDowell went on to help establish Eureka Studios in 1976 in downtown’s Armory Square. Seven years later the studio’s artists incorporated as Eureka Crafts, at 210 Walton St. Following Eureka’s lead, quaint gift shops, restaurants and specialty retailers have since filled Armory Square.
McDowell’s funeral services will be at 1 p.m. Sunday April 3, at Fabius Community Church followed by a reception at the Highland Forest Park Lodge.
Bill is survived by his wife, the versatile artist Deborah Haylor-McDowell.
Big band at Suds April 6
The hard-driving Salt City Jazz Collective returns to the Syracuse Suds Factory at 6 p.m. Wednesday, April 6.
The 16-piece orchestra led by trombonist Joe Colombo boldly delivers compositions by Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Stan Kenton, Buddy Rich, Woody Herman, Glenn Miller and Tommy Dorsey. The band has also forged its own sound by performing original tunes by band members Joe Riposo and Angelo Candela.
The Collective performs on the first Wednesday of each month at the Suds Factory, at South Clinton and Walton streets, in Armory Square, downtown.
Admission is always free, and the Factory’s food pleases every palate. Its namesake suds are pretty satisfying as well; 471-2253.
Chiefs open here April 13
After the winter we’ve just survived, it’s no wonder that thousands of us are jonesin’ for baseball.
The Syracuse Chiefs start swinging their bats at Alliance Bank Stadium at 2 p.m. Wednesday, April 13 against the Pawtucket Red Sox.
In their third year as the top affiliate of the Washington Nationals, the Chiefs will field a team with a new manager, Randy Knorr, several new players such as hitters Jonathan Van Every and Michael Aubrey and a handful of familiar faces like pitchers Craig Stammen and Collin Balester.
Alliance Bank Stadium is located on the city’s North Side, just east of the Regional Market, at Tex Simone Drive (First North Street). Field-level ticket prices range from $12 to $20 this season, while upper-deck seats cost $8, and $4 for kids and seniors. The stadium parking fee has increased to $5 per vehicle; 474-7833; syracusechiefs.com.