Tim Straub both directed and played in Rangeley Friends of the Arts August 10-12 production of the Odd Couple, and the female version almost ten years ago. This time he played Oscar Madison, but last time, along with Barry Libby, he played one of the two brothers (rather than the sisters). Wow! That must have been fun.

Tim Straub (TS)- “It was a lot of fun. It was easier to direct that way, but it was also more fun because you were only going on stage all told around 20 minutes. So I was able to come at it the same way that Carolyn (Smith) and Mary (Boothby Brown) did and just go out there and blow the doors off the place and get out. You get to ham it up. You don’t have to sweat around for all the practices.”

We started talking about the talented cast. A true fan, I grew up watching the Odd Couple television show and have seen the movie several times, so for the actors to be able to pull core characteristics from the ensemble cast but also alter the characters just enough to make them their own was a joy for me to watch. A sympathetic tale of the pain of divorce and the challenges of a strained friendship, the cast really made it great for me.

True to form Tim agreed with me about the talented cast, but also starts getting all heavy on me musing about the construct of theater itself.

“Well, yeah, they made it you know, because they could always go any number of ways and then the whole age thing between Fletcher and everybody else.”

I admitted to him Fletcher’s age difference didn’t even occur to me. That’s how good the acting was. (And yes, the ‘salt’ they added to Fletcher’s pepper helped the illusion.)


“Yeah, I wasn’t concerned about it either because I knew that the audience suspend belief because you’re in a theater. You have this crap happening in front of you, I mean it’s like it’s just a bizarre concept just to begin with. You know, you have people that are ten feet away from you, watching you as you perform. It’s just like, what are humans thinking by doing this?”

It’s an interesting topic of conversation to be sure, but I still felt the need to reel it back in and so inquired about the catalyst for this revisiting of the Odd Couple.

“You know my relationship with the RFA is… it’s a very generous relationship. They leave the door open. When we get together for our annual meetings, the theater meeting, and when they decide what the performances are going to be for any given year, they defer. Like, ‘Do you got anything in mind?’ And you know the past three years, mostly because of COVID I was like ‘Nope, nope, nope, I’m out.’ So, I had looked at doing it last year, but I could not put together a cast that I felt would work. And I had met David Silver who played Speed and I thought, oh, I gotta do something with this guy. (He laughed) I got to get David on board with something. And then when the cast thing didn’t come together last year I thought, okay, we can do the Sunshine Boys. You know the Sunshine Boys? It’s another Neil Simon play. I think the movie had George Burns and Walter Matthau.

Yeah, but it was too much it was too much for David and then yep, so came at it again this year. But I’ll tell you when sitting there in January and saying that you’re going to put together something that’s going to be performed in August, you know, it’s like, yeah, I don’t know, it’s like how am I to say it’s like being pregnant? What do I know about pregnancy other than having witnessed it several times up close and personal? But it’s like you find out that you’re pregnant and it’s like, okay, well I don’t feel a damn thing, so I’m flying, ‘Weeee, I’m pregnant!’ and then as time goes on, it’s like, ah, ‘Holy ****, I’m REALLY pregnant.’ You know, this is like, ‘Aw man, I can’t wait till it’s born.’ That’s yeah, kind of how it felt when getting closer to the performance dates.

Auditions were held in May and unlike the repercussions in days of Covid, when few showed up, this time the whole cast with the exception of Fletcher Dellavalle, who played Felix Unger, was present.

Straub approached Fletcher for the part.


“He was a divine inspiration after the person who I wanted to play Felix at first demurred, and just like ‘No, that’s something I don’t want to do’, and yeah, then Fletch came to mind and I said ‘Let’s do it. Come on. You and me, man.’

You know, we’re always in touch and I know he’s capable of doing, and I knew that he, given the attention and time, he’d be able to play a fabulous Felix.”

I commented on the considerable number of lines combined with physical humor Fletcher had to master.

“Yeah. Fletch. I was acting more like the fulcrum, you know, where everything’s playing off of. Like the cone in a cotton candy machine. You know I’m just like snare and all the flossy stuff is happening around me and Fletcher, I knew that once he felt more comfortable, he’d dive right in and make it his own, which he did. That’s part of the challenge is you’ll look at what other people have done, and you start adopting what someone else has already done and then it’s like, ‘Okay, well, I can only take mimicking so far. And then yeah, just like the four days leading up to opening night he ‘Fletcherized it’ and I cannot tell you what a big difference happened between Sunday and Thursday.

You can come at it as Walter Matthau or as Nathan Lane from Broadway and I would have got like 10% of what they did. And what I ended up doing, when I look at it, it’s impossible not to be critical of yourself, but you know, I look at it. Oh my God. You know, I just could not take it as far as I know I could have.”

Well, when you compare yourself to Matthau and Lane, yes Tim, but I repeated my praise for both him and the entire performance. If there was a competition of community theaters, I would seriously put all of my money on this crew. The details, the sets, the costumes, the live music, the entire production was so high level. And of course, the directing of Straub as well.


“You do, you get around, you see what’s happening and I am a man of faith. Not the religious kind. I just firmly believe in those that are around me and the talent that we do have here. Like bringing in Valerie (Zapolsky), she’s a mathematical, you know, she has that type of mind. And when I brought her my idea of what I wanted the set to look like she’s like, ‘Yea, we can do that.”

He gave the example of the mini ceiling over the entire set. “I was psyched. It gives more of a sense of actually being an apartment and that matters. And then, you know the props and the. furniture that Carolyn lent us just like she did nine years ago for Odd Couple. Yeah, it matters. You want to have a couch that you can actually sit on and not fear that you’re going to fall and the round dining table that Elise Andrews came through with like 2 days before. I had this ratty little table, which was like a piece of doo, and it took me 6 weeks just to find a damn table and she, yeah, she came through with it. Yeah, and then the music!”

We continued to discuss the good fortune of the musicians and how grateful we are and what an absolute difference it makes. Then, I started to name some of my favorite scenes, like when the sisters made their hilarious entrance. Also, I thought the vacuuming scene was priceless. Such finesse to what could have been a boring interlude. Fletcher’s yoga skills shined through, lol.

“Yeah, when it comes to the physical part, just inviting him to do this stuff when I’m not watching. As the director and you’re in like almost every scene, you can’t see everything that’s happening. So, I recorded it a few nights before the actual show, so I could go through it like a coach, you know looking at the scrimmage against a team and I’m looking at Fletcher like ‘You could do more man come down, man, be more physical. Go to town with this and do the lunges and then do the boxing moves.”

Besides the challenges of performing both roles in the female production of the Odd Couple, he also had the pleasure directing Arsenic and Old Lace and Death of a Salesman.

He reflected, “The whole thing was about to come undone because we didn’t have a Willy Loman and Chris Farmer stepped in at the eleventh hour. And yeah, if I’d had to direct that and be Willy at the same time I just I knew how hard it would be and didn’t feel right about it.”


I asked Tim if he preferred acting, directing, or both and without pause he responded, “Stephanie, I love being a ham,” he laughed. “I love being a ham. I like getting on stage and hamming it up, but at the same time actually having a vision of something. Not to sound too corny or full of myself, but when it comes to fruition, it’s like Holy God, it’s just so gratifying, so satisfying. It’s like, I can’t believe that we were able to do this. And after finishing Odd Couple and that final bow, being there with those people that you just spent so much time with and it actually worked, it actually happened. I don’t know. Again, you know the whole idea of giving birth. What the hell do I know about giving birth except this. The time that something takes to build something and like the stage that becomes the placenta and little actors- ‘Wah!’ Tim mimics baby cries and laughs, “Oh my God, we have octuplets! How did that happen?!”

All this talk of pregnancy I suggested he might be feeling a little post-partum low or something.

“Oh hell yeah! The day after it’s like, just let me at it one more time. Now I know exactly how I want to do this. I mean, the director’s cut. Now that they went through it and all this stuff happened like that, and just how I really wanted it to look. Where everybody just relaxes and just goes to town, which is something I’ve done in the past like the night before the actual opening night and just have the actors do whatever the hell they want. Stay in your character, you can deliver your lines, but do things that you didn’t normally do through all the practices, and it just loosens everything up and the fun factor increases.”

I confessed to Tim that unlike what one might imagine experiencing in a small-town production, I was enjoying myself so much the evening of the performance that I was surprised when it ended.

“That’s foremost on my mind, is the time, and I speak to them. I speak to the actors constantly about ‘No, this has to be faster, has to be quicker, it has to be more seamless. You know, you can’t dawdle on a line. You can’t say it so fast that people can’t keep up, but you can’t sit there and just deliver your line. That’s not what’s happening. You’re speaking, and so speak. And I wanted this one at an hour and 45 minutes and I was like, I’ll be damned if we don’t come in an hour and 45 minutes just for the performance. We were over that, but not by much. And for that very reason because I’ve sat in the audience so many times, like, ‘Oh my God.’”

Finishing up the interview, I asked if there was anything in particular he might want to add.

“Ohh no, keep it short. Keep it sweet. Keep it simple.”

Oh well, sorry Tim. I’ll work on that… Maybe I’ll be able to comply by the third time you act and direct in the next production of the Odd Couple.

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