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Red River High School stages 'The Odd Couple'

The Neil Simon comedy, "The Odd Couple," opened Thursday at Red River High School and runs through Sunday. Jackson Holm and Seth Brandl, both seniors, play characters who are polar opposites in personal and housekeeping habits, as well as lifestyle.

Oscar Madison (Seth Brandl,) right, and Felix Ungar (Jackson Holm) are cast in the Red River Drama Department's "The Odd Couple" now playing through Feb. 4 at Red River High School. Photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald
Oscar Madison (Seth Brandl,) right, and Felix Ungar (Jackson Holm) are cast in the Red River Drama Department's "The Odd Couple" now playing through Feb. 4 at Red River High School. Photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

The Neil Simon comedy, "The Odd Couple," opened Thursday at Red River High School

and runs through Sunday.

Jackson Holm and Seth Brandl, both seniors, play characters who are polar opposites in personal and housekeeping habits, as well as lifestyle.

Holm plays the uptight, obsessively tidy Felix Unger, while Brandl plays the easy-going slob, Oscar Madison.

"When you see these guys, it's clear that they're pretty much made for these parts," said Rich McFarlane, who's directing the show.

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At showtime, the curtain lifts to reveal Oscar's total mess of an apartment in Manhattan.

"There's laundry and empty pizza boxes everywhere," McFarlane said. "It's the quintessential bachelor pad."

After the first scene, a 17-member crew cleans the set "from top to bottom in less than one-and-a-half minutes," McFarlane said. "We're shooting for one minute."

There's a reason Simon's play, originally produced on Broadway in 1965, spawned a movie starring Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon, a TV sitcom and numerous theatrical productions, McFarlane said.

"So much of the show is just complete, timeless humor," he said.

"(Oscar and Felix) are completely different personalities. But they need to live together, each for different reasons-Felix, because he's been kicked out by his wife, and Oscar, because he's behind on alimony and so he needs money" from a roommate.

"They are trapped. It's so painful."

The audience will enjoy watching Holm portray the slovenly Oscar, McFarlane said. "He communicates so much with his face."

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Sydney Warcup and Francie Shaft, also seniors, play Oscar's neighbors, the "Pigeon Sisters," who actually "coo" when they laugh. Oscar tries to help Felix lighten up a bit, and have some fun, by arranging a double-date, which does not progress quite as he hoped.

Simon set the comedy in the '60s, but "we've tried to keep it as period-specific as possible," McFarlane said.

He's tweaked the script slightly, he said. "We took one or two lines from Neil Simon's other shows. They fit really well, and they're really funny."

Performances begin at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday.

Tickets are $8 for adults, $5 for students and seniors. Enter at door 1.

For reservations, call (701) 746-2411 or go to: www.spacompany.org

(L-R) Oscar Madison (Seth Brandl), Vinnie (Ben Johnson), Murray (Ryan Soleim), Speed (Drew Relling) and Roy (Floyd Althoff) listen to make sure Felix Ungar is OK in the first act of the Red River High School's production of "The Odd Couple." Photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald
(L-R) Oscar Madison (Seth Brandl), Vinnie (Ben Johnson), Murray (Ryan Soleim), Speed (Drew Relling) and Roy (Floyd Althoff) listen to make sure Felix Ungar is OK in the first act of the Red River High School's production of "The Odd Couple." Photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

Pamela Knudson is a features and arts/entertainment writer for the Grand Forks Herald.

She has worked for the Herald since 2011 and has covered a wide variety of topics, including the latest performances in the region and health topics.

Pamela can be reached at pknudson@gfherald.com or (701) 780-1107.
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