When it comes to the role of Oscar in The Odd Couple, it seems like fate has been trying to tell Rob Stover something for a long time.
The New Westminster actor is now starring alongside fellow New Westminsterite Adrian Maxwell in the Metro Theatre production of Neil Simon’s classic comedy. It’s on Oct. 30 to Nov. 14.
Stover is onstage as the divorced sportswriter Oscar Madison, alongside Maxwell’s sophisticated and fastidious Felix Unger.
Stover has been a fan of the play for many years. He read it in high school and immediately loved it.
“I had hoped to stage it with my fellow classmates but, looking back, maybe the sight of a bunch of teenagers playing divorced middle-aged men wouldn’t have been the best choice,” he said in a post on the Metro Theatre website. “As time went on, I regularly picked up a copy of the play and re-read it, marvelling at Neil Simon’s balance of truth and humour in the lives of these oh-so-relatable characters.”
As it happens, Stover went on to have personal encounters with not one but two of the most famous Oscars ever to play the role.
One was in 1993, when Stover had a part-time job promoting store credit cards in the Bay, and Jack Klugman, the original TV Oscar Madison, happened to walk by. Scrambling to find something to say, Stover first asked if he’d like to apply for a Bay card – but Klugman shook his head and walked on.
“I had blown my chance,” Stover reminisces in his post. “At that moment, I geekily blurted out ‘It’s Mr. Madison!’ He turned back to me, smiled and gave a friendly wave before heading off. As it turns out, he and Tony Randall were in town filming an Odd Couple TV movie.”
The second encounter was on Broadway in 2003, when Stover was at a play and happened to spot Broadway legend Nathan Lane in the audience. He chatted briefly with the star at intermission, complimenting him on his performance in The Producers a couple of years earlier.
Two years after that, Lane would go on to star alongside his Producers co-star Matthew Broderick in a Broadway revival of – you guessed it – The Odd Couple. Lane played Oscar to Broderick’s Felix.
Now Stover gets to take to the stage in the very same role, and he couldn’t be more excited about the opportunity.
“I am grateful to our director Cathy (Morrison) for the chance to play this iconic character and hope you enjoy watching the show as much as our company is in performing it,” Stover said.
Director Catherine Morrison is eager to bring the classic comedy to the stage.
“The Odd Couple is considered by many as one of the finest stage comedies ever written. I agree. Everyone can relate to both these men,” she said in a press release. “Neil Simon’s comedy brilliance wins us early and carries us throughout.”
A third New Westminster resident, Dovreshin MacRae, is also in the cast, as Speed.
CHECK IT OUT
What: The Odd Couple, by Neil Simon, presented by Metro Theatre
Where: 1370 Southwest Marine Dr., Vancouver
When: Oct. 30 to Nov. 14, with preview show Oct. 29. Evening shows at 8 p.m. Oct. 30, Nov. 4, 5, 6, 11, 12 and 13. Matinees at 2 p.m. Oct. 31, Nov. 7 and 14. Director’s talk Friday, Nov. 5.
Tickets: From $31.50 (preview tickets $25). Group discounts available. Tickets can be reserved by calling the box office at 604-266-7191 or purchased online.
COVID-19 protocols: Proof of vaccination is required to enter the theatre. Masks are required inside the theatre for all patrons born in 2009 or earlier.