ARTS CLUB THEATRE COMPANY
THE ODD COUPLE
starring Norm Grohmann and Miles Ramsay
Also featuring John James Hong, Robert Metcalfe, Michael P. Northey, Allan Zinyk, Katey Wright and Beatrice Zeilinger
Directed by Bill Millerd
Monday to Saturday at 8 pm until August 14
by Roxanne Davies
Is an uncanny resemblance to one of the characters in a popular stage show reason enough to mount a production? Apparently the Arts Club Theatre thinks it does and is the reason behind their recent comedy, The Odd Couple, starring BC media personalities, Norm Grohmann and Miles Ramsay.
It seems that a comment by Ramsay's son that his dad bore a striking resemblance to Walter Mathau started the wheels in progress that sees dad take up the humorous role of cleanliness-challenged Oscar Mathison. His roommate, Felix, is BC TV's long time weatherman, Norm Grohmann, who appears to be well cast as the neurotic,clean freak, Felix Unger.
It's an amusing experience to see two well-known media personalities take up the challenge of acting together in a popular Simon comedy, stepping out of their normal comfort zones. And while the opening night audience awarded the production with a steady stream of laughs and giggles, this uneven production may not be a big hit with out-of-towners who have no idea what Norm and Miles do during the day.
Although the two seasoned media veterans seemed to truly enjoy themselves throughout the performance, they tended to recite their lines rather than act them out, waiting for each to finish before talking. This lack of comic timing didn't do justice to the truly funny dialogue in this, arguably, Simon's best play.
That said, I would like to comment favorably on the rest of the cast, seasoned actors, who do an admirable job keeping up the zany action. The four poker playing buddies are so politically incorrect in these uptight times, it made me inappropriately nostalgic for the kind of abuse divorcees and chubby women once endured.
The highlight of the evening was the appearance of the two British Pigeon sisters, played by Katey Wright and Beatrice Zeilinger. They beautifully played off each other, without missing one comic beat. I loved their costumes, pop art dresses and matching stockings, and I must admit I used to have that kind of getup myself in the swinging 60s.
The set design by Ted Roberts, was excellent. Roomy yet seemingly cluttered at the same time, Oscar's flat, pre-Felix cleanup, reminded me of my teenager's bedroom. The music, comprised from hummable tunes from the era, namely the Beatles, brought back fond memories.
The original play starring Walter Mathau and Jack Lemmon, spun off a popular TV show which ran for quite a long time and is probably still somewhere seen in the mega channel universe. I tried not to compare the current production and simply enjoyed the bits that were the best in this uneven performance.
The press release from media contact Lin Bennett marked some of Ramsay's other accomplishments, notably creator of a successful advertising agency, long time membership in the Chor Leoni and Phoenix Chamber Choir, and writer of music for both..
He also wrote the famous A & W Root Beer song. He also pays the mortgage as the multi-personality Chevron ad man. He can now say he fulfilled his dream of playing sloppy Oscar to his adoring Vancouver audience. This is just the kind of light entertainment summer vacationers are fond of; and if BC TV news viewers and avid commercial watchers pack the audience, this comedy should enjoy a healthy run until August 14.