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Your weekend arts forecast: A classic comedy through a new lens

Bill DeYoung



Damon Dennin, left, and Michael Burgess are Oscar and Felix in American Stage's "The Odd Couple." Photo: Jarrett Hass

Neil Simon’s 1960s buddy comedy The Odd Couple gets a contemporary makeover with the American Stage production opening Friday. Oscar Madison and Felix Unger are back, and still full of laughs (between Oscar’s slovenliness and Felix’s neuroses).

Director Adam Mace has made some changes to the play – it’s “a contemporary, fresh and multicultural interpretation of this beloved American classic,” according to the American Stage PR machine.

This Odd Couple is set in the pandemic-strained summer of 2021; Oscar (Damon Dennin) is white, Felix (Michael Burgess) is Black. The entire cast, in fact, is multi-racial.

In a prepared statement, Mace said it all: “For over a year and a half we have been dealing with this awful global pandemic, and there really is no more important time to gather together safely and laugh than right now.

The Odd Couple isn’t just about a messy roommate and a tidy roommate. It’s more complex than that — friendship itself is the odd thing. There is so much room for friendship to go wrong with all its combustible elements, yet, it is these components – all the differences, likes and dislikes, and commonality – that create beautiful unions that last lifetimes.”

Details and ticket info are here.

Thanks to Nick Hoop for pointing out that bay area professional theater, for the first time since Covid introduced itself, is (almost) in full swing again, with Evil Dead The Musical at Stageworks (final weekend!), Dames at Sea at freeFall, Skin Hungry at Lab, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde at Jobsite, and the aforementioned American Stage production of The Odd Couple.

Last, but not least, is The Curious Case of the Dog in the Night-Time and The Giver, which Tampa Rep is readying (as a dynamic theatrical duo) for a Nov. 23 opening.

A touring production of the musical adaptation of the comedy Tootsie is in residence at the David A. Straz Center through Sunday. Tickets for the performances, part of the Straz Broadway series, are available here.


Hip hop TFO

From Houston, Texas comes FLY Dance Company, specializing in hip hop choreography, in a collaboration with The Florida Orchestra. Breakin’ Classical, the Saturday program (2 and 8 p.m., Mahaffey Theater) includes a wide range of music-to-dance-to, from Ravel’s Bolero to the Louis Prima version of “Sing! Sing! Sing!” Info and tickets here.

Music and more

Some tickets (though not a lot) remain for Friday’s Rolling Stones concert at Raymond James Stadium. Here’s the link if you’re looking. And here’s the link for tickets to Saturday’s Jason Aldean show at the Mid-Florida Credit Union Amphitheatre.

Goodie Mob and Scarface open Friday’s Amalie Arena concert for neo-soul giant Erykah Badu. Tickets here.

Blues guitar greats Buddy Guy and Kenny Wayne Shepherd are double-billed Friday at Ruth Eckerd Hall. The 85-year-old Guy, a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, released The Blues is Alive and Well in 2018. Fans of ‘80s pop music will be happy to see the Psychedelic Furs at the Capitol Theatre, Ruth’s sister venue, on the same night. All tickets here.

Friday in the Catalyst, we’ll run down all the Halloween-related weekend events, large and no-so.

Please add us to your mailing list – send all press releases and event info to bill@stpetecatalyst.com.



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