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Festival To Open Neil Simon’s The Odd Couple


CEDAR CITY, UT — Oscar Madison and Felix Ungar have become synonymous with dysfunctional roommates. The characters, first created by Neil Simon in 1965 as a Broadway play, have since been adapted for films, several television series, and a cornucopia of skits and jokes. Now, the Utah Shakespeare Festival is bringing them to its stage, featuring two of Utah’s most beloved actors.

Festival Artistic Directors David Ivers and Brian Vaughn will portray the greatly-at-odds roommates beginning September 14—with the two of them alternating between the roles of sloppy and careless Oscar Madison and fastidious neat freak Felix Ungar. Not only will these two alternate between the two lead roles, but in approximately one-third of the performances, the audience will decide at the top of the show who plays which character!

For dates and other details, and to order tickets, visit the Festival website at www.bard.org.

“Neil Simon is one of the greatest American playwrights, a great classical writer,” said Vaughn. “We thought it was a shame that we hadn’t produced one of his plays. And the more David and I thought about us playing the roles, and rotating between them, the more sure we were that now was the time, and this was the way to introduce Simon to our audiences.”

“It’s Neil Simon. That is the only reason we needed to produce this play. The writing is incredible, brilliant,” added Ivers. “The play is great for our audiences, for our mission; and it just so happens that Brian and I are at a place in our life where we’re right for the roles.”

Of course, there are many challenges in playing both lead roles in a very fast-moving comedy. “The biggest challenge has been memorizing it,” said Vaughn. “Simon’s writing is so specific. We must pay attention, even to the punctuation.”

Directing the play is J. R. Sullivan who has worked with Ivers and Vaughn in the past at the Festival, directing them in Stones in His Pockets in both 2005 and 2012 and in Arsenic and Old Lace in 2001. He has also directed twenty-one other plays at the Festival, including Amadeus, Sense and Sensibility (which he also co-adapted), Gaslight, and King Lear.

“He is the perfect director for this play,” said Vaughn. “We have such a history with him, and he has such a great understanding of the time period and the form.”

The Odd Couple plays in the Randall L. Jones Theatre September 14 through October 22. It runs in repertory with the hilarious Marx Brothers comedy The Cocoanuts, the zany musical murder mystery Murder for Two, and Shakespeare’s political thriller Julius Caesar. For exact dates and times, visit the Festival website at www.bard.org.

The Utah Shakespeare Festival is part of the Beverley Taylor Sorenson Center for the Arts at Southern Utah University, which also includes the Southern Utah Museum of Art (SUMA).

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© Utah Shakespeare Festival 2023 www.bard.org Cedar City, Utah