The Moreau Seminary produces `The Odd Couple' this weekend
By KATIE RAND
By watching co-directors Nate Farley and Matthew Vereecke observe their actors during a rehearsal, it is easy to see why the pair chose this production. Farley, up-front and not hesitant to speak his mind, makes Vereecke look quiet and reserved. It is fitting then, that the production being put on by the Moreau Seminary Players this year is "The Odd Couple."
The Seminary picks up the cost of the play out of its yearly budget, so every penny earned at the door is donated directly to the missions.
"The play doesn't cost much to put on," Farley, a Moreau Seminary candidate, said. "The scripts were cheap, the rights were inexpensive, and we made the set ourselves. We were pretty frugal with our budget."
The budget did not have a negative effect on the play however because the set only needs to resemble the living room of a twelfth floor apartment; a task that did not prove to be too difficult. The director of maintenance at the Seminary built the set's walls, and the two red doors are from last year's Pasquerilla East Music Company's production of "Guys and Dolls," a play with which Farley was involved.
"We did all the set design ourselves," Vereecke said. "We only used props and furniture that we found around the Seminary."
The table and chairs came from the dining room, the sofa was picked up from a lounge and the bookshelves were "borrowed" from friends' rooms.
The script for "The Odd Couple" was written in the late '60s by playwright Neil Simon and has since been adapted by other writers into two television series, two films and a version of the play in which the main characters are women.
The plot revolves around the lives of two men, Oscar Madison and Felix Unger, who hold a weekly poker night in Oscar's apartment with four other friends. One night the group is stunned when Felix does not show up and they are shocked to discover that he has been thrown out by his wife and is now a divorcee like Oscar. Oscar, feeling badly for his long-time friend, allows Felix to move into his apartment. The only problem is that the men are as different as day and night. Felix is precise, extremely neat and anal retentive while Oscar is sloppy and carefree. Their clashing lifestyles lead to inevitable conflicts as well as a hilarious road to resolution.
Old College sophomores Jeff Drocco and Tim O'Malley play Felix and Oscar, respectively. Both men agree that the production has taken a lot of time and effort, but they are pleased with how the play has turned out.
"It's been pretty impossible," O'Malley said. "We have a lot of late night rehearsals since we all have such busy schedules, but it's been worth it."
Drocco agrees with his onstage roommate.
"Just because you're in the Seminary doesn't mean you can't have a sense of humor," Drocco said. "Up until recently, plays were very common among seminaries. It was thought to be good for public speaking."
In fact, hosting a play is a newly rekindled tradition for the Seminary. For a time it was held annually, but was put on hold until last year.
"It used to be more or less a tradition, but it has kind of fallen off in recent years," Farley said. "Last year we revamped the Moreau Players and did `Twelve Angry Men,' a production that raised around $2,000 for Holy Cross Missions."
Prior to "Twelve Angry Men," (starring Vereecke) the last play put on by the Seminary was none other than "The Odd Couple," a production in which Father Gary Chamberland, the rector of Keenen Hall, played Felix.
"Last semester Matt and I poured through scripts. We looked at play after play," Farley said. "Finally we came across `The Odd Couple' and thought it would be great for us to do."
Auditions were held in the middle of the fall semester, with rehearsals commencing shortly there after. Six of the actors are in the Seminary, including Drocco and O'Malley as well as Brian Flaherty, Mike MacDonald, Tom Prall, and Robby Davidson. Stage manager Charles Rittert is a freshman in Old College.
Notre Dame sophomores Gabby Sopko and Krista Seidl play the two female roles, sisters Gwendolyn and Cecily Pigeon.
"We chose people we were already familiar with and who we knew would be able to keep up with our weird practice schedule without being easily intimidated," Vereecke, an Old College sophomore, said. "Gabby and Krista have been absolutely excellent and very flexible. They've been roommates for two years so they work well together and already get along like sisters."
The girls, friends of O'Malley and Drocco, joined the production for something fun to do in their free time.
"It's a pretty low pressure production and seemed like a lot of fun," Seidl said. "I thought it would be a good way to get acting experience and I already knew the guys really well."
Sopko auditioned just for fun as well, although she already has some acting experience under her belt. She took a theatre class last semester and is currently a member of the University of Notre Dame Humor Artists. Experience, however, is not a requirement to put on a successful show.
"One of the strengths of the production is that we don't have formal training," Farley said. "We put a lot of work into this and in the end we're pulling off a great show."
The Moreau Seminary production of "The Odd Couple" is being described as the funniest show you'll ever see in a seminary, but that is up to this weekend's audiences to decide for themselves.
Performances are tomorrow and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. in the Moreau Seminary Auditorium. Admission is free, with a freewill offering for Holy Cross Missions.
Contact Katie Rand at firstname.lastname@example.org.
All Scene Stories for Thursday, February 21, 2002