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‘Odd' men act up
Comedy to run through Oct. 3
Odd Couple 7 es
From left, Roy (Dave Lanni), Oscar Madison (Bill Wilson), Vinnie (Dennis Bayne), Murray (Joe Springer) and Speed (John Spencer) check on their friend Felix Unger (Steve Pryor) during a scene of “The Odd Couple” at the Cumming Playhouse. - photo by Emily Saunders

If you’re going

The “Odd Couple” runs through Oct. 3. Showtimes are at 8 p.m. every Thursday through Saturday and 3 p.m. on Sundays. Tickets are $20.

Contact: (770) 781-9178 or visit

Bill Wilson agrees his wife and mother would both say the same thing, “He’s been in lifelong training to play Oscar.”

Oscar Madison, the slob from “The Odd Couple,” has come to life on the Cumming Playhouse stage in the Gypsy Theatre’s production of the Neil Simon classic, which runs through Oct. 3.

While “The Odd Couple” has graced both movie and TV screens, the story started as a play in the 1960s. It follows two men, both separated from their wives, who decide to move in together.

The quick banter between the laid-back slob and an uptight neat freak make light of an otherwise serious issue.

“I think drama inherently must be turned into comedy as a defense mechanism,” said the show’s director, known as Mercury. “Neil Simon does it wonderfully in this play and in most of his plays where you can take a dramatic situation and laugh at it, because you must either laugh or cry.”

Wilson said playing the part of Oscar is his dream role.

“It’s one of the handful of parts I’ve always wanted to play,” he said. “But I love this show so much I would have taken any part — except maybe one of the Pigeon sisters, and I won’t tell you which one.”

Steve Pryor will be playing the role of Felix Ungar, the clean, albeit bitter, roommate of Oscar.  

When he auditioned for the production, Pryor was somewhat surprised to be cast as Felix.

“If you were to look around my house and my car, you certainly would not cast me as Felix,” he said. “But I was thrilled to get it.

“I’m just having a blast with it ... you can’t go wrong with a Neil Simon comedy.”

For both actors, the challenge has been not imitating previous interpretations of the characters, particularly those of Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau, who made the roles popular in the 1968 movie.

Pryor said he’s avoided watching any of the old TV episodes or the movie. Wilson said he has listened to an audio recording of Nathan Lane reading the role to practice his lines.

“That has helped me because you can’t get much farther from Walter Matthau than Nathan Lane,” he said.

Regardless of strategy, Mercury said both men have made it unique to their own life experiences.

“They were both able to bring a lot to the table,” he said. “We were concerned in the beginning about finding two very strong actors to play the lead roles.

“Fortunately, we found them and they are just amazing together.”