Well, The Odd Couple opens on Thursday and we couldn’t be more excited to share this particular production with you! If you haven’t already heard, our actors are tackling the monumental task of reversing roles every-other performance. One night Jody and Jason will play Oscar and Felix, and the next night they’ll switch and play Felix and Oscar. Crazy, right? Crazy, but awesome. We briefly spoke with director Julie Ahasay and actors Jody Kujawa and Jason Scorich for some insider details of why they decided to do this and how the rehearsal process took shape. Enjoy!
PH: Julie, tell us about how you came to the decision to tackle the role reversal with The Odd Couple.
JULIE: When I was first working with the script I thought about how many people have both a Felix and an Oscar within them—a fastidious bundle of nerves and a relaxed slob. And that made me start thinking about how interesting it would be to see two actors find both those characters within themselves. I proposed the idea to Christine last summer when I ran into her at a coffee shop and she immediately embraced the idea. Then it was a matter of seeing if two actors capable of and interested in doing this switch would show up for auditions and demonstrate they could do this very challenging and tricky work.
And there were Jody and Jason, showing us a Felix and an Oscar.
This work isn’t just about memorizing nearly an entire script–it’s also about developing two completely different, fully realized characters.
PH: Jason, what was your reaction to the roles you’re playing and the role switching?
JASON: When Julie mentioned her idea of playing both parts, I was scared to death. The more I thought about it, the more scared I became. But I also knew that if she asked me, I’d do it. I am involved in theater for the challenge and for the opportunity to stretch myself—I couldn’t ask for more of that with this production. The most obvious challenge is memorizing, essentially, the entire script. Then there’s also the issue of switching on a dime between one character and another in rehearsal. There’s also the situation of listening to the lines you said last night which are now your cue lines, and doing completely different blocking. And, of course, the other cast members have to adjust to two different versions of each character coming at them. But the surprising thing, for me, is that your mind adapts. It keeps the character you’re currently playing in the forefront, and let’s the other lines slip away to the point that you only think of them if the other person is forgetting theirs. And, I guess, that’s the bonus of playing both. There is someone onstage with you who knows your lines—because tomorrow they’re his.
PH: Have you ever done anything like this before?
JASON: No, I have never done anything like this before.
JODY: I haven’t. It’s a seemingly impossible thing to do and it was flattering that Julie would think I have the ability to pull that sort of thing off.
PH: In what ways are you preparing differently for this show?
JASON: The biggest preparation difference is constantly switching characters back and forth in rehearsal—it takes a different level of focus. We’ll do a scene, and Julie will say “Ok, let’s flip it,” and we turn on a dime and do it again as the other character. Even during our introductory read-through with everyone, Jody and I alternated characters every act, so you’d turn the page, and BANG! you had to be another person.
PH: Is there one character you like playing more than the other?
JODY: I’m actually surprised to find that I prefer playing Felix. Which is weird because I went in with Oscar as my dream role. I think it’s because it was so out of the box I had to work harder and think about it harder.
This is a show you won’t want to miss – and tickets are selling fast! And if you want the chance to see both performances, grab your tickets now. Here’s the rundown of who is playing Oscar and Felix each night. Enjoy the show!
Oscar Madison: Jody Kujawa (February 6, 8, 14, 16), Jason Scorich (February 7, 9, 13, 15)
Felix Ungar: Jason Scorich (February 6, 8, 14, 16), Jody Kujawa (February 7, 9, 13, 15)