'The Odd Couple' aims to delight in Killingly

By Denise Coffey - Staff Writer
Danielson - posted Mon., Jan. 14, 2013
(L to r) Jonathan Demers, Mike Gallo, Josh Fontaine, Michael Lefevre and Roy Simmons rehearse for 'The Odd Couple.' Photos by D. Coffey.
(L to r) Jonathan Demers, Mike Gallo, Josh Fontaine, Michael Lefevre and Roy Simmons rehearse for 'The Odd Couple.' Photos by D. Coffey.

The set of the Little Theater on Broad Street in Danielson was a mess on Jan. 9, as actors rehearsed for “The Odd Couple.” Newspapers, empty beer cans and pizza boxes were strewn on the floor. Clothes were draped across a couch. Shoes were stuffed underneath an easy chair. At a kitchen table located just feet from the living room, Jonathan Demers, as Oscar Madison, hosted a card party with his buddies.
Demers has been involved in theater since 1996, but said this is the most fun he's ever had in a play. He plays a slovenly sportswriter who invites Felix, his neatnik friend, to move in with him after Felix's wife throws him out of the house. “You see what happens when you have friends who are two polar opposites living together,” he said. “When I hear younger people say they want to move in with their friends, I say don't do it. You won't be friends anymore. This is the classic tale of why it happens.”

The Neil Simon play premiered on Broadway in 1965. It was so successful it spawned a movie and television series. Director Carol Alderson called it a classic story. “It's universal, right, with so many divorces,” she said. “It's about two guys who are polar opposites in personality and character and they have to co-exist. It's kind of like husband and wife. You have to learn to accept each other.”

Michael Lefevre, who plays Roy, agreed. “It's a fun play and reflective of every person's drama,” he said. “I think everybody has had relationship issues and friend issues, and this play does it in a fun way. It touches on everything that everyone has had to deal with.”

Lefevre teaches English at the Norwich Free Academy. “Part of being a teacher is teaching kids to have courage and bravery, and to get out there and do things and be passionate about things,” he said. “This is walking the walk. And it's fun.”

Josh Fontaine, who plays Felix Ungar, keys in to his own habits to make Felix come alive. “When I was younger, I had to be sure everything was turned off and locked,” he said. “Felix is a lot more neat and nitpicky than I am. The mental focus I use is that Felix has to do it. It's not something he can control. He needs to do things or he'll go crazy.” The trouble is, the things Felix has to do are the things that make Oscar go crazy.

Fontaine took his place on stage, joining his buddies for a game of poker. The actors read off their lines with only occasional nods to stage manager Sharon Starr to refresh their memories. Alderson watched, taking notes and checking sight lines as actors moved around the stage.  Act 1 ended. Theater manager Allegra Plantier said, “Nice pacing.”

The group went into Act 2. Jennifer Briere and Mary Dolan waited for their turn on stage. The two women play Gwendolyn and Cecily Pigeon, sisters from England who go on a double date with Oscar and Felix. “We're the estrogen in the show,” Briere said. “We haven't peaked yet. We don't want to peak until opening night, but I think it's going to be a great show.”

“The Odd Couple” will run Jan. 25, Jan. 26, Feb. 1 and Feb. 2 at 7:30 p.m., and Jan. 27 and Feb. 3 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $8 for adults and $5 for seniors and children 2-11. Tickets are available at Killingly Parks and Recreation, Trink-et Shoppe and at the door. For more information, call 860-779-5390.

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