Stage Center Theatre

Fall 2011

The Odd Couple
by Neil Simon
Directed by Lisa Cantwell

Felix is a compulsive neat freak who prefers the taste and value of his own home cooked meals. Oscar is a roguish slob who lives large and can't manage to save a penny.  When Felix's wife kicks him out, the recently divorced Oscar proposes that Felix move in with him.  The weekly poker game will never be the same.  Join Speed, Vinnie, Roy, Murray, the Pigeon sisters and this delightfully odd couple in Neil Simon's comic classic.

Director's Notes_____________

        Neil Simon’s The Odd Couple was first produced in 1965, a time of great political and social change in this country.  The Vietnam War, the civil rights movement and the changing roles of women in society were evidence of growing unrest and a burgeoning climate of protest.  In addition, the dynamics of the traditional family unit were changing. As divorce became an increasingly acceptable option for couples when things didn’t sit right on the home front, the stereotypical marriage of the 1950s was no longer the only model of family life.
        With divorce becoming more commonplace, the newly minted bachelors didn’t automatically or voluntarily gravitate toward chores like cleaning and cooking.  Unmarried men at the time often hired maids to pick up after them and popped in TV dinners at mealtime.  And while men often got together in groups to have drinks or play a weekly poker game, it was uncommon for two divorced men to move in together.  It would be even less likely for one of the men to enjoy handling what were traditionally female household duties.
        Enter Oscar and Felix, the marvelously mismatched pair in the title roles.  Oscar, the devil-may-care slob who has recently divorced but hates living alone, invites Felix, his neurotic neat-freak best friend who was just rejected by his wife, to live with him.  Add a mixed batch of blue-collar and white-collar card playing buddies along with a pair of appealing divorced sisters and you’ve got the perfect comic setup.
        Would this scenario hold up today?  You bet.  Though it is common today to see two men as roommates, even men who enjoy cooking and cleaning, the issues that Simon so brilliantly illustrates in this play – broken marriages, thoughts of despair and loneliness, and the need for friendship – are timeless.  These are people and situations we recognize all too well.  And while the punch lines keep us laughing, it is the humanity of the characters that we never forget.

                    Lisa Cantwell, Director

SPEED............................Brad Cantwell
MURRAY....................John Baumeister
ROY.............................Robert Babcock
VINNIE.............................Brian Rogers
OSCAR MADISON...............Nick Shea
FELIX UNGAR........Rand Ringgenberg
GWENDOLYN PIGEON.........Jill Matel
CECILY PIGEON...........Ann Dernbach

Brad Cantwell loves playing poker in dirty and clean apartments with interesting and irritating people.  He recently appeared at the Stage Center Theatre as Kirby in You Can’t Take It With You, as Phileas Fogg in Around the World in 80 Days, Gordon in Dead Man’s Cell Phone, Sydney Carton in A Tale of Two Cities, various roles in Vaudeville America!, Richard in Living Out, Oberon in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Amenuensis/Geronte in The Illusion.  Brad thanks this talented cast and crew, and he really loves this director!  Love and kisses to his wish granters, Lisa and McCoy.

John Baumeister likes to reminisce about Lisa Cantwell (John's bar wench in a musical they were in) saying a few years back, "Hey, why don't you audition at the Stage Center Theatre?"  Two days and a haphazard monologue later, he was in My Sister Eileen and As You Like It.  John loves the intimacy of THIS theatre.  However, it truly is the people that he has “worked with” that make it a very special place.  John wishes he could say something very clever to thank his family.  However, they know how special they truly are and without them he would not be performing today.

Robert Babcock is excited to be in The Odd Couple with so many wonderful actors.  He has worked with Stage Center Theatre most recently as Orlando in As You Like It.  Robert has also worked with Democracy Burlesque and the Dominican University Performing Arts Center.  His favorite past credits include Banquo in MacBeth and Cassio in Othello.  Thanks to Lisa Cantwell for her wonderful stage direction, to Anna Antaramian and Krista Hansen for their artistic encouragement and inspiration, and to all friends and family for their continued love and support.  Enjoy the show.

Brian Rogers is thrilled to be involved with his third production at Stage Center Theatre.  One could say that he's caught the acting bug and it burrowed under his skin and laid eggs in his heart.  Brian wishes to thank the cast and crew for an unforgettable experience, especially Lisa, whose guidance and support has been invaluable.  One last very special thanks to Kristen, a remarkable and wonderful fiancée.

Nick Shea has enjoyed his positively bacchanalian time with the cast and crew of The Odd Couple. His previous Stage Center Theatre shows include The Illusion, Arms and the Man, and Around the World in 80 Days. He has great love for his friends and family and jealousy for his mother who is in southern Spain right now. Life just isn't fair sometimes.

Rand Ringgenberg is very excited to be performing in the first production here at the newly renovated Stage Center Theatre with such a terrific company. He has been seen recently here in You Can’t Take it With You, As You Like It, Emma’s Child and Dead Man’s Cell Phone. Rand is a CMT major at NEIU and will be graduating in December. He is having a great time taking on the role of Felix, as well as assuming the role of playwright, as two of his one act plays, O Come All Ye Faithful and The Gedanken Experiment, were presented in the Studio Theatre in October.

Jill Matel is excited to be returning to Stage Center Theater for her fifth time and to be working with this truly talented and devoted cast.  She is also very excited to have returned to school as part of the CMT department at NEIU this fall to finish her undergraduate degree.  Jill attended Barat College as a dance minor and theatre major and has been very active in the theatre community in both Milwaukee and Chicago for several years.  Thank you to Lisa for this awesome opportunity and Annie for being her sister!!  Break legs all!!

Ann Dernbach is very excited to be involved in another production at Stage Center Theatre.  She has previously appeared as Phebe in As You Like It and Gay Wellington in You Can't Take It With You.  She was also the stage manager for Lucky Stiff, Vaudeville America!, and You Can't Take It With You.  She would like to thank her boss and coworkers for dealing with her crazy schedule, her friends and family for their love and constant support, the wonderful cast and crew, and the magnificent Lisa Cantwell for inviting her to be a part of this magical production.  Heart!

Brian Rogers (Vinnie), John Baumeister (Murray), Brad Cantwell (Speed), Robert Babcock (Roy), Nick Shea (Oscar Madison)

Production Staff_______________________________
Director………………….....……………...…Lisa Cantwell
Assistant Director............................Arbella Al-bazi
Stage Manager……………………………....Lily Stephens
Assisant Stage Manager.............................Yim Chiu
Scenic Designer…………………....…..Jessica Kuehnau
Costume Designer…………….…..........Jana Anderson
Light Designer………………………......John Rodriguez
Sound Board Operator…...……..……...Adam Francis
Light Board Operator……...……….......Juanita Rivas
Set Construction……...……Theatre Practicum Class
Artistic Staff Profiles_____________

Lisa Cantwell (Director) earned her bachelor’s degree at Northwestern University and recently received her Master’s degree in Communication, Media and Theatre here at NEIU.  She is an instructor of theatre and also teaches in the College of Arts and Sciences Education Program (CASEP) at NEIU.  Recent directing projects include How He Lied to Her Husband, Totally RED!, Dead Man’s Cell Phone, and The Love for Three Oranges.  Heartfelt thanks to darling Jana, sweet Jessica, and to John R., her Tony; to Rodney for laughing with me and not at me; and to this adorable cast and crew, you are what make theatre such a blast. Eternal gratitude to Anna, the most beautiful flower. And to her own wonderful odd couple, Monkey and B, you are the best game buddies ever.

Arbella Al-bazi (Assistant Director) is thrilled to be working on The Odd Couple as assistant director along side a talented and hilarious cast and crew.  Most recently, she has been seen performing at the Stage Center Theatre in the productions of You Can't Take It With You and Emma's Child.  Arbella will be graduating in the spring with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication, Media and Theatre.  She would like to extend her sincerest gratitude to Lisa Cantwell who has been such a wonderful mentor.

Jessica Kuehnau (Scenic Designer) is pleased to be designing her third season for the Stage Center Theatre and third year as technical faculty for NEIU.  Since completing her M.F.A. in Scenic and Costume Design at Northwestern University, Ms. Kuehnau has been designing sets and costumes for such notable theatres as Pegasus Players, Circle Theatre, Griffin, Lifeline Theatre, MPAACT, Adventure Stage Chicago, Metropolis Performing Art Center and Backstage Theatre.  She is also the resident set designer at North Park University and a founding ensemble member of Adventure Stage Center Chicago.

John Rodriguez (Lighting Designer) joined the theatre faculty at NEIU six years ago and has been teaching courses in technical theatre as well as working as a designer on Stage Center Theatre productions.  Most recent designs include Lucky Stiff, An Inspector Calls, Arms and the Man, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Lettice and Lovage, The Illusion, Electra, and Charley’s Aunt as well as Thymely Theatre’s productions of Taking Steps and Stage Door.

Jana Anderson (Costume Designer) has worked with the Stage Center Theatre for the last few years  Her work has also been featured by numerous theatre groups including Redmoon Theatre, Light Opera Works, Irish Repertory Theatre, just to name a few  Prior to coming to the United States, Jana created elaborate costumes for classical opera productions at the Slovak National Theatre in Bratislava, Czechoslovakia  When she is not preparing costumes for theatre productions, Jana is busy designing and creating unique haute couture fashions for individual clients in the US and Europe.

Lily Stevens (Stage Manager) is very excited to be making her stage managing debut at Stage Center Theatre.  Most recently, she has been studying improvisation at the I.O. Theatre and The Second City Conservatory.  She would like to thank her amazing friends and family for all of their love and support and the amazing cast and crew of The Odd Couple for giving her this incredible opportunity.

Theatre Personnel________________
Managing Artistic Director……............ Rodney Higginbotham
Theatre Bookkeeper…………….....................Lisa Cantwell
Publications & Publicity Staff….................Elizabeth Krahulec,
                                    Elizabeth Serrano
Newsletter Editor……….……..............……Kathleen Weiss
Box Office & House Managers…................…Marta Mardosz,
                                   Seden Odabas

Special Thanks___________________
To Katrina Bell-Jordan; Anna Antaramian; Rodney Higginbotham; Jana Anderson; Jessica Kuehnau; John Rodriguez; Caitlin Inman; Jeff Wade; Karol Bayley; all of my colleagues in the Department of Communication, Media and Theatre; Elizabeth K.; Cha Cha; Seden; Marta; and Donna Goering and the wonderful cast and crew of the Studio Series for patiently dealing with our always loud and lively rehearsals.  And to Adam, Annie, Arbella, Brad, Brian, Jill, John B., Juanita, Lily, Nick, Rand, Rob and Yim – you’re tops with me.

This production of The Odd Couple is produced by special arrangement with Samuel French, Inc.

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