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Two Roommates, Two Thousand Laughs! The Odd Couple at the Walnut

April 1, 2008

PHILADELPHIA, PA: The Walnut Street Theatre continues its 199th season with Neil Simon's THE ODD COUPLE. This new production, presented in conjunction with South Florida's New Vista Theatre Company, is one of Neil Simon's greatest triumphs of stage comedy. THE ODD COUPLE features Broadway veterans Avi Hoffman and Gary Marachek alongside an excellent supporting cast very familiar to Philadelphia theater-goers. The production starts March 11, opens March 19 and runs through April 27 on the Walnut Street Theatre Mainstage.

Recently divorced sportswriter Oscar Madison (Avi Hoffman) has it made in the shade. With cleanliness not being a very high priority for him, this bachelor's unique habitat consists of dirty dishes, cigar butts, scattered clothes and the general aftermath from hundreds of late night poker games. All that changes when neurotic, neat freak news writer Felix Ungar (Gary Marachek) is tossed out by his wife and finds sanctuary with his buddy Oscar. Can two friends with vastly different personalities learn to live together? Opposites attract, but what happens when they collide? What follows is a story so popular, it has been called the concept to launch a thousand sitcoms. THE ODD COUPLE remains one of the most enduring and outstanding examples of modern situation comedy brought to life onstage.


Neil Simon is hands down the world's most successful playwright. With dozens of plays and nearly as many major motion pictures to his credit, he has been showered with more Academy and Tony nominations than any other writer and is the only playwright to have four Broadway productions running simultaneously. His plays have been produced in dozens of languages, and have been blockbuster hits from Beijing to Moscow. THE ODD COUPLE marked Neil Simon's first Tony Award for Best Author of a Play. THE ODD COUPLE enjoyed a magnificent first run on Broadway, and has gone on to a number of other popular versions on stage, screen and television.


The Walnut's production of THE ODD COUPLE marks its first collaboration with South Florida's New Vista Theatre Company. Now in their second season, New Vista is committed to bringing a broad range of classics and new works to the theatre-going community, and is very excited to be a part of this production, according to Producing Artistic Director Avi Hoffman: "It is an honor to partner with the Walnut Street Theatre and bring South Florida theatergoers this outstanding classic comedy," Hoffman explained. "For a theater company in its 199th season to co-produce a show with the New Vista, a theater company in its 2nd season, is such an amazing compliment," he stressed. Bernard Havard, WST President and Producing Artistic Director, met Hoffman 20 years ago during his perfomance in a production of The Golden Land at the Walnut. "I am very excited to be working with Avi Hoffman again and The New Vista Theatre Company," Havard stated. "Recently I was looking for a new partnership because I believe wholeheartedly that theaters that co-produce stand to gain much, not only economically but artistically, which is most important," he added.


Our mis-matched duo of Oscar and Felix are brought to life by Broadway vets Avi Hoffman and Gary Marachek.

Avi Hoffman (Oscar Madison) is best known for his one-man shows Too Jewish? and Too Jewish, Too! (Performer of the Year '95" - NY Press Magazine; L.A. Ovation Award" - Best Actor in a Musical 2001; NY Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle award nominations). Avi has performed all over the world and in addition to his numerous theatre credits and multiple awards and nominations, he is the founder and producing artistic director of the New Vista Theatre Co. in Pam Beach County, FL.

Gary Marachek (Felix Ungar) New York credits: Jekyll & Hyde, City of Angels, My Fair Lady, Me and My Girl, La Cage Aus Folles, Rumors, Anything Goes, Man of La Mancha. Gary is a published author, a featured soloist on two original cast albums, a recording artist, has appeared in several national tours and is a six time award winning actor. Last August he completed the revival of Zombie Prom in NYC at the American Theatre of Actors (starring in the role of Eddie Flagrante) and he just completed a short stint in Phantom in New York.

Harry Philibosian (Speed) last seen in the Independence Studio's Production of The Fantasticks. Having appeared on most of the regional stages in Philadelphia, he was honored with a Barrymore for best supporting actor as Shelly Levine in Theatre Exile's production of Glengarry Glen Ross.

Jeffrey Coon (Vinnie) is well known to many in the Philadelphia theatre community, having performed many iconic roles here at the Walnut (Che in Evita, Billy Bigelow in Carousel) and elsewhere. He is a multiple Barrymore Award nominee, and Best Supporting Actor winner for the Arden's production of The Baker's Wife.

David Volin (Roy) last appeared at the Walnut in our 2004 Independence Studio Production of Moll. David's other Credits include Rounding Third, El Grande de Coca-Cola, Klonsky & Schwartz, Art and The Laramie Project.

Michael Serratore (Murray) is excited to be making his Walnut Street debut. Past credits include Hughie (Eric Smith), and Italian American Reconciliation (Aldo). Michael originated the role of Fungi Puglio, appearing with the author, in the world premiere of Israel Horovitz' Fast Hands (Gloucester Stage Company).

Madi Distefano (Gwendolyn Pigeon) is a Philadelphia-based playwright, actor, director and teacher. She has performed in the Walnut Street Theatre productions of Neil Simon's Lost in Yonkers and Biloxi Blues, and works as a director in their studio series. Her one woman show, Popsicle's Departure, 1989, took home a Scotsman Fringe First and The Stage Magazine Award for Best Solo Show at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. A 6-time Barrymore Award nominee, she won Best Leading Actress in '05.

Leah Walton (Cecily Pigeon) has performed with many different theatre companies in Philadelphia, and has been a part of two Barrymore-nominated Ensembles (Delaware Theatre Company's Pay Up and EgoPo's Spring Awakening).


Bill Van Horn has been a busy man around the Walnut Street Theatre for the past few seasons. He has worked onstage and off, directing The Walnut's productions of The Dishwashers and Forrest: A Riot of Dreams (Independence Studio on 3), as well as being recently featured onstage in Man of La Mancha, Rodgers and Hammerstein's Carousel and The Dishwashers. He is a prolific actor, filmmaker, playwright and director, having performed in over 300 stage productions and directed over 50 shows. He is a resident of South Philadelphia and spends his time away from Philadelphia working across the country, including yearly summer productions at Maine's Theatre at Monmouth.


The design team for THE ODD COUPLE is a showcase of South Florida's great talent base mixed with some great design talent here in Philadelphia. Set Designer Ian T. Almeida has the daunting task of designing an intricate static set for not only one, but two different theatres, each with their own unique architecture, resources and size. Mr. Almeida has worked with many different theatre companies up and down the east coast, from Massachusetts to Miami. Barrymore Award-winning Lighting Designer Shelley Hicklin (Walnut's Of Mice and Men) returns to the Walnut Mainstage for a second time this season, following our recent production of Arthur Miller's The Price. Costume Designer Paula Villar has designed for numerous touring productions and professional theatres, and has worked with Sir Paul McCartney, Cher, Barbara Streisand, Bette Miller, Prince, Phil Collins, Diana Ross, Rolling Stones among many others. Sound Designer Christopher Colucci has been very busy around Philadelphia lately, designing for the Walnut Street Theatre Independence Studio on 3 (Mr. Bailey's Minder, Vivien, Greater Tuna) as well as productions for InterAct, Azuka, Theatre Exile and Lantern Theater. Some of Christopher's other recent designs include The Complete Works of William Shakespeare for Delaware Theatre Co. and the remounting of James Sugg's rock and role song cycle, The Sea.

Neil Simon's THE ODD COUPLE runs at the Walnut from March 11 through April 27, 2008.