Lane and Broderick—the original Max and Leo of The Producers—play Oscar Madison and Felix Unger in Neil Simon's classic comedy about the uneasy cohabitation of a sloppy sportswriter and an uptight writer for CBS news. The 1965 play's 1960s time period has been retained.
The curtain rises on John Lee Beatty smoke-filled set of a Manhattan apartment, where the second-most-famous poker game in American dramatic literature (after Stanley Kowalski's in Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire) is underway. The apartment belongs to Madison, who has let it go to wrack and ruin since his divorce. When he invites the tightly wound neat freak Unger—whose wife has just thrown him out—to bunk with him, the eight rooms become a battle ground over whose lifestyle will ultimately prevail, as well as how much close personal contact a friendship can endure.
(Audiences may occasionally experience déjà vu while watching Lane and Broderick perform, particularly during one moment when Lane's Oscar calms Broderick's Felix by throwing water in his face. As Max, Lane did the same thing to Broderick's Leo in an early scene in The Producers.)
The supporting cast of The Odd Couple will feature Peter Frechette (Roy) Brad Garrett (Murray), Lee Wilkof (Vinnie) and Rob Bartlett (Speed), and Pigeon Sisters Jessica Stone (Cecily) and Olivia d'Abo (Gwendolyn). Joe Mantello directs. The hot new show is all but sold out. "I don't think we can take out any ads," producer Emanuel Azenberg told the New York Post, "because it would be misleading. We don't have any tickets."
The show has a $21.5 million advance according to the daily. As previously reported, tickets flew out the door when seats were first offered to American Express users on June 6. The show had $16.5 million in the bank within two weeks of that date.
The Odd Couple is produced by Ira Pittelman, Jeffrey Sine, Ben Sprecher, Max Cooper, Scott E. Nederlander and Emanuel Azenberg.
The Post also reported that Garrett, on "Everybody Loves Raymond" fame, is understudy to Lane, and may succeed Lane if the actor departs the shows when his contract is up in April.
The original Broadway production of The Odd Couple opened at Broadway's Plymouth Theatre in March 1965. (Take a look inside the original Playbill with the Playbill Archives feature.) Art Carney and Walter Matthau starred as, respectively, Felix and Oscar. The production won four 1965 Tonys, including awards for Matthau (Actor), Simon (Author), Mike Nichols (Director) and Oliver Smith (Scenic Designer). Matthau then repeated his role on film opposite the Felix of Jack Lemmon. The long-running TV version of Simon's work featured Jack Klugman (Oscar) and Tony Randall (Felix).