POLSON - The Port Polson Players "like to do things nobody else does" when their summer season hits, Neil Lewing says.
But before they get to that, they'll kick off their 35th season with a comedy most everybody knows.
Neil Simon's "The Odd Couple" will get 2010 started Friday with a two-weekend run.
It's a familiar play for Lewing, who directs and, this time, stars as Felix Ungar, the persnickety, hypochondriac neat-freak who moves in with his friend, sportswriter (and slob extraordinaire) Oscar Madison (played by Mike Lozar).
"We thought it'd be a pleasant diversion for starting the new season," Lewing says. "It's a great show, timeless, a true theater classic."
Written by Simon in 1965, the PPP talked about moving the production into the 21st century, but decided against it.
"It's funniest if you keep it in the '60s," Lewing says, and besides, it's tough to inflate the prices in the script.
"There's a point where Felix tells Oscar he pays half the rent on their New York apartment - ‘$125 a month!' " Lewing says. "Try to do the math - it's easier to learn the lines as they're written."
It's the fourth time Lewing has. He's played Felix, Oscar, and one of the roommates' poker buddies, Speed, in past "Odd Couple" productions.
"Of course, it's been 15 years since we last did it, in Deer Lodge, and 20 years since we've done it in Polson," Lewing says. "Some of the lines seem like second nature, and some seem like virgin territory."
Wayne Morris, Steve Alexander, Dave Conrad and Rick Schoening play Murray, Vinnie, Speed and Roy, Oscar and Felix's poker pals. Kara Bishop and Hilary Lozar are Cecily and Gwendolyn Pigeon, the British sisters who live upstairs.
"The Odd Couple" will be it for the more traditional theatrical fare in from the Port Polson Players this season.
The rest of the lineup includes:
• "Valley Full of Diamonds," an updating of the musical Neil and Karen Lewing wrote and produced 25 years ago, for Polson's 75th birthday. The centennial version adds a couple scenes and songs reflecting the last quarter of a century in the town's history.
• "Lover's Leap," a comedy set on an apartment window ledge.
• "That's the Poop: A Musical in Two Movements."
• And "The Dixie Swim Club," a comedy with an all-female cast.
"It takes time to find some of these," Lewing says with a laugh, explaining why "The Odd Couple" was an easy choice to get the season rolling.
Reporter Vince Devlin can be reached at 1-800-366-7186 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.