Here comes trouble: first look at The Odd Couple

John Frost for Crossroads Live is returning Neil Simon’s The Odd Couple to its roots as a play, after many years of reinterpretation in television and film adaptations. 

One of Australia’s most iconic duos, Todd McKenny and Shane Jacobson, are set to take the stage of Melbourne’s Comedy Theatre from May 18, portraying the characters of Oscar and Felix. 

Many of Australia’s most renowned acting talents have collaborated for the production, including Lucy Durack, Penny McNamee, Laurence Coy, Anthony Taufa, John Batchelor and Jamie Oxenbould. 

Todd McKenny described the writing as “delicious” when ENCORE was given a sneak peek during rehearsals this week.

“The words were there specifically designed to hit certain marks whether that be emotional or meaningful, and getting to deliver that talented writing is just incredible,” he said.

The Odd Couple tells the story of two housemates who are polar opposites, in a universal narrative that still makes it relevant to audiences today.

PHOTO: Eden Hayes

Although the play lacks the song and dance of other shows currently in Melbourne, Todd said it “sings in its own way” thanks to rhythm throughout the script. 

Shane Jacobson said he appreciates the numerous callbacks woven within the production and suggests viewers return multiple times to learn more about the narrative.

“You can’t expect an audience to pick up all of that from the first time in the theatre, so what am I saying? You’ll have to come back at least five times,” he said.. 

Shane and Todd last collaborated back in 2023 when they played husband and wife in Hairspray the Musical. A duo that had audiences laughing across Australia.

It is no surprise the pair were approached about working together again. 

“We sat down with John Frost and said we wanna work together again, so what are we doing, and all of us at the same time said The Odd Couple?”, Todd said. 

The theatre veteran is currently dividing his time between Wicked, his new show Peter Allen and Me, and the The Odd Couple.

He is excited to put down his jazz hands and feels thrilled about the “fresh and invigorating” experience Neil Simon’s play has to offer. 

PHOTO: Eden Hayes

Taking on the roles of the giggly sisters, who live upstairs from Oscar and Felix, is one of Australia’s most distinguished leading ladies Lucy Durak and Logie award nominated actress Penny Mcnamee. 

They are ready to trade in their dancing shoes and singing voices for some good old witty humour. 

“I’m hoping that the four of us will really bring the audience in on the gags…as opposed to being distant and not in the gang,” Penny told Theatre Matters in a recent interview.

The set will transport audiences back to the ’70s and will feature vibrant couches, patterned cushions, record players and various other period embellishments.

Catch “the most mismatched duo in comedy history” in Melbourne. Tickets are available now.

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Eden Hayes
Eden Hayes
Eden Hayes is a Melbourne journalist with a passion for theatre, sports and popular culture. She loves a night out at the theatre!

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