George Wendt Takes Ill in Illinois, Won't Star in The Odd Couple; Marc Grapey Steps In
By Kenneth Jones
Actor George Wendt has left the in-rehearsal company of The Odd Couple at the Chicago-area's Northlight Theatre due to medical reasons, the not-for-profit announced on Oct. 30. Marc Grapey, who was playing Murray in the Neil Simon comedy, will step into Wendt's role of Oscar Madison.
"George checked into the hospital Sunday evening [Oct. 28] with chest pains, is getting medical attention and will eventually make a full recovery," Northlight executive director Timothy Evans said in a statement. "All of us at Northlight wish George all the best for a speedy recuperation."
Fans of Chicago comedy were looking forward to this production's uniting of "Saturday Night Live" alumnus Tim Kazurinsky (as fussy Felix Ungar) and "Cheers" and Broadway star Wendt (as sloppy Oscar) — both veterans of The Second City comedy troupe there.
Chicago actor and Broadway veteran Grapey previously appeared in the Broadway production of Simon's play, with Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick. The Northlight production, directed by artistic director B.J. Jones, will run, as planned, Nov. 2-Dec. 9 in Skokie, IL. Opening night is Nov. 9.
Jones said in a statement, "George is family to us at Northlight and we wish him well for a complete and speedy recovery. He was part of an ensemble cast of Chicago comic actors that appreciate each other's talents, support each other's work and lift each other up. He will be missed in the rehearsal room and on stage. We are so fortunate to have the brilliant Chicago actor Marc Grapey on our team, who was in the Broadway company of The Odd Couple, covering for both Nathan Lane and going on for Matthew Broderick. Marc will step in to the role and we couldn't be more pleased to have his talent and energy in the cast."
The Chicago cast also includes Bruce Jarchow (Roy), William Dick (Vinnie), Molly Glynn (Cecily), Katherine Keberlein (Gwen) and Phil Ridarelli (Speed). Casting for Murray the Cop is TBA.
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