Since they met on the Channel 7 TV series The Real Full Monty several years ago, the friends have worked together on TV in Mates on a Mission and The All New Monty, and on stage in The Rocky Horror Show and Hairspray (as husband and wife).
Now Shane and Todd are set to prove that they are the genuine odd couple, when they star in Neil Simon’s classic comedy The Odd Couple at the Comedy Theatre Melbourne and the Theatre Royal Sydney in 2024.
Produced by John Frost for Crossroads Live, this laugh-a-minute Tony Award-winning play by the master of comedy Neil Simon, is sure to have audiences rolling in the aisles.
“I’ve long been a fan of Neil Simon’s work and have been waiting for the right pair of actors to play Oscar and Felix in The Odd Couple,” said John Frost. “When I witnessed the great friendship between Shane Jacobson and Todd McKenney, and how wonderfully they work together on stage, I knew I’d found my perfect Oscar and Felix. I know audiences are going to love The Odd Couple and getting to know these mismatched flatmates all over again.”
The Odd Couple opened on Broadway in March 1965 at the Plymouth Theatre (now Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre) and ran for 16 months. Directed by Mike Nichols, the play starred Walter Matthau as Oscar Madison and Art Carney as Felix Ungar and gained Tony Awards for Best Script, Best Actor (Walter Matthau), Best Direction of a Play and Best Scenic Design, and was nominated for Best Play.
In the decades since its premiere, Neil Simon’s Tony Award winning play about friendship, divorce and misunderstandings has been recreated for film and television several times. In 1968 it was filmed with Jack Lemmon as Felix opposite Matthau, and in 1970 it was remade for television with Tony Randall as Felix and Jack Klugman as Oscar. Along the way several other derivative works and spin-offs have been produced, including a female version and even a kids cartoon with a (neat) cat and a (messy) dog.
Famous duos to have played these iconic roles include Matthew Broderick and Nathan Lane, Martin Short and Eugene Levy, Jamie Farr and William Christopher (from MASH), comedians Bill Bailey and Alan Davies, and in 1996 Jack Klugman and Tony Randall reprised their film roles on the London stage.
Two suddenly single pals – a sloppy sportswriter and a fastidious news writer – strain their friendship by becoming roommates and unconsciously repeating the same mistakes they made in the marriages they just left.
Neurotic and neat freak Felix Ungar is thrown out by his wife, and moves in with his slovenly friend Oscar Madison. The characteristics that drove each of them to leave their wives soon have them at each other’s throats in this classic comedy.
Neil Simon is one of the most successful and prolific playwrights and screenwriters of the 20th century. In 1966 he had four successful productions running simultaneously on Broadway and in 1983, became the only living playwright to have a New York theatre, the Neil Simon Theatre, named in his honour. His body of work includes over 30 plays and almost as many movies, most of which were adaptations of his plays.
Simon’s ability to write about life’s more difficult issues with wit and comedy has won him a Pulitzer Prize for Lost in Yonkers and three Tony Awards for The Odd Couple, Biloxi Blues and Lost in Yonkers, as well as a special Tony Award for his contributions to theatre. His popular works like Barefoot in the Park and The Odd Couple continue to be celebrated in the theatre world more than 50 years after they were written.
It started as a play and Broadway laughed. A movie and a TV series followed and the whole world laughed. Now, laugh all over again with this hilarious new Australian stage production of The Odd Couple.
“Scarcely a moment that is not hilarious.” The New York Times
The Odd Couple will play at the Comedy Theatre Melbourne from 18 May 2024 and the Theatre Royal Sydney from 27 June 2024. Tickets are now on presale in Melbourne, with GP sales on Friday 8 December. Tickets will go on presale in Sydney from Wednesday 13 December with GP sale on Friday 15 December 2023. For more information, visit: www.theoddcoupleplay.com.au for details.
Image: Shane Jacobson and Todd McKenney (supplied)