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  • Writer's pictureKelly Marks

The Odd Couple

When Madi was little, she was incredibly messy. Her room looked like a cyclone hit it five minutes after she finished “cleaning“ it. At one point, a friend of Paul’s sketched a picture of her room complete with a little Madi sitting in the middle of the chaos. It was so spot on that we framed it and on the matting we put “Oscar" Madison after the character from the show The Odd Couple. 

We showed her scenes from the program which ran from 1970 to 1975. And even though I would’ve been too young to enjoy it when it first came out, it has always been one of our favorite shows. Paul owns the DVD set of all five seasons.

When Madi was 10 years old, and Jack Klugman, who played Oscar Madison, was 90 years old, she wrote him asking for his autograph. With her letter she included a copy of the drawing of her room and explained how she understood his pain of living with Felix Unger the neatnik, because her grandmother made Unger look a little messy.

Shortly before he passed away, Klugman sent Madi his autograph, and she was beyond thrilled as she considered herself his namesake from the show.

A few weeks ago, Paul noticed that the local theater in Fort Mill was putting on the Neil Simon play The Odd Couple, so he bought tickets. 

While we enjoy an evening uptown at Blumenthal Performing Arts Center, local theater has charm and grit in equal measure that no professional theater can touch.

Last night we took our seats just a couple of minutes before the play began. The performance started earlier than we had assumed, because as one person put it, “They roll up the town’s streets at 10 PM.”

The president of the theater stood on stage and made a few announcements prior to the start of the show. She asked that everyone silence their cell phones, told where the exits were located and then in a very humorous fashion she suggested that donations were always a good thing especially since the theater is currently looking for a new space and real estate is expensive these days.

Just as she was walking off the stage, she made the most unusual announcement I’ve ever heard. Apparently a stomach bug hit one of the lead actors, Felix Unger as a matter of fact, so the stage manager would be performing the role instead, and he would be reading from the script. Coinciding with her last word, she quickly hopped off stage, and the lights went out, leaving the audience with no option other than to stay put and watch the show despite the news.

The stage manager started out trying to disguise the fact that he had the script in hand, but after a couple of minutes in, because of the physicality of his part, he held the book in front of his face, adjusted his glasses and dove right in. I’m pretty sure a couple of times he read someone else’s line, but he really did a remarkable job.  At the curtain call in fact, he received the most applause.

As we filed out, all of the actors were standing by the door, and Felix looked as if he were on the verge of a stroke or nervous breakdown. Every single person stopped and reassured him of his great performance.

Was it the quality of a professional production? Not exactly. But it was definitely the performance of a lifetime.

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