Loboy, Rome return in show

‘Odd Couple’ plays at Robins

To paraphrase the opening sequence of the television version of “The Odd Couple,” “Can two morning TV hosts share a stage without driving each other crazy?”

Jim Loboy and Len Rome, hosts of “33 News Daybreak” on WYTV, will find out when they return to the stage in “The Odd Couple.” The Neil Simon comedy opens Friday for a three-performance run at the Robins Theatre.

It’s not the first time the pair has played the roles of slovenly sports writer Oscar Madison and neat freak Felix Ungar. They starred in a 2012 production of the comedy at Youngstown’s Victorian Players (now known as the Hopewell Theatre).

“Everybody knows ‘The Odd Couple’,” director Marlene Menaldi Strollo said.

It remains one of most-produced plays by the prolific Simon, and it has had multiple incarnations. The original Broadway production ran for more than two years and won four Tony Awards, and it’s enjoyed two Broadway revivals. Simon also adapted his original play to switch the gender of the principal characters.

The 1968 film version starring Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau was a box office hit and received two Academy Award nominations. The 1970 television version with Tony Randall and Jack Klugman ran for five seasons, and other television series tried to duplicate the formula with less success.

Strollo said she didn’t let those other versions influence this production.

“I’m not trying to duplicate anything they’ve done,” she said. “I’m letting the actors create their own characters, but they have some of the same instincts, just like Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau.”

Strollo has reassembled most of the cast of the from that production for the shows at the Robins Theatre. And Loboy and Rome aren’t the only familiar faces from local television in the cast. WFMJ’s Glenn Stevens plays one of Oscar’s and Felix’s poker buddies, and Regina Reynolds is one of the Pigeon sisters.

The rest of the cast includes C. Richard Haldi, Carl Brockway, Garry Clark and Denise Sculli.

The biggest difference between this and the 2012 production is the size of the theater. The Robins is at least 10 times larger than Hopewell. Strollo said she isn’t using a stage curtain, and they put the set as close as they could to front of the stage to close the gap between the performers and the audience. The actors will be wearing microphones and will have to adjust their performances to the room.

“My actors just have to be bigger than life,” she said. “Their gestures have to be bigger because it’s such a big space.”

A dollar from every ticket sold will go to Trumbull Mobile Meals, which delivers more than 100,000 meals annually to residents who can’t cook for themselves or travel to sites where meals are available.