Actors Michael Burgess and Damon Dennen had never met before being cast as besties Felix Unger and Oscar Madison in American Stage’s season opener The Odd Couple. In Neil Simon’s beloved 1965 buddy comedy, Felix and Oscar are mismatched roommates – one’s a neatnik and the other’s a slob.
Of course, the archetype was created by Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau in the Oscar-winning movie version from ’68, and lived on with the ‘70s Odd Couple TV series (starring Tony Randall and Jack Klugman).
These are not impersonations.
“I’ve seen the TV show, but I never saw the movie,” Burgess said. “I wanted to see where the director (Adam Mace) wanted to go, and then see what I felt from this character, just in terms of what he sounded like and how he might conduct himself. Separate from those things.”
In our Zoom conversation, both actors talk about the American Stage production, and the ways in which it was “transported” into the 21st Century – without changing a word of Simon’s original dialogue.
Click on the arrow above to watch the conversation.
The Odd Couple runs through Nov. 21.