Seeing The Odd Couple

The Odd Couple logoI had the pleasure of seeing MTCs production of The Odd Couple, starring my favourite odd couple, Shaun and Francis.

I’d seen the female version of The Odd Couple before, so had an understanding of the plot, but seeing the characters again highlighted both the differences and similarities.

MTC don’t do anything by halves, so the set was absolutely amazing – no wobbling walls here. Even for the 60’s, it was one hell of an apartment for a bachelor, or a couple of bachelors, in New York.

Despite the 60’s setting, it didn’t feel overly dated, apart from a few lines which wouldn’t cut mustard today. The wives throwing out their husbands was probably ahead of its time, actually.

Shaun’s Felix is a bit camp, a bit slapstick, a bit Christopher Walken in his American accent, but lots of fun. Francis’s acting chops were on display and he played Oscar with probably the right amount of anger and frustration. There were some brilliant scenes between them; chasing each other through the apartment and passive aggressively arguing over the cleanliness of the place were my favourites. As Felix’s wife’s name is Frances, his slips of the tongue referring to Oscar (ie. Francis) as Frances had a nice double meeting.

The whole cast were amazing, and I got the chance to gush at Michala Banas, David Paterson and Grant Piro after the show – all of whom were lovely. Not to mention Francis and Shaun, who always are.

I’d love to see Shaun and Francis in a comedy revue, as I think Shaun suits that better (thinking of Good Evening with Stephen Curry), but I really enjoyed the production and it felt as fun to watch as it might have been for the actors (Shaun having made Michala corpse – for the first time, apparently – when we saw it).

odd-couple-signatures

The Odd Couple

oddcoupleShaun and long time collaborator Francis Greenslade have long been an odd couple, but for their first time in a starring role onstage together, they will be The Odd Couple.

In Neil Simon’s famous 1960’s play, Shaun plays clean-freak Felix and Francis plays the messy Oscar, both of whom have found themselves recently single, living together and depending on each other. With their friends supporting/hindering them and a date with the sisters from next door, can they really last as roommates?

Recently Shaun and Francis posed as some other famous odd couples for the Fairfax Spectrum magazine – you can see the hilarious results on the SMH website.

The show runs until December 20th at the Melbourne Theatre Company. (I’ll give a review when I see it later this month.)

Our 2016 Interview with Shaun

Mad As Hell S6Ep5: TV HottiesShaun has once again given us some of his valuable time after filming an episode of Mad As Hell recently to answer all our burning questions:


Has this season of Mad As Hell felt more frenetic because of the election which was impending and then imploded?

Tonight (episode 9) felt a lot stranger, because of what happened on Saturday (election) night. We had to put ourselves in a time machine and go ahead three days and think “what’s going to happen on Wednesday?” (They actually taped two openings due to the uncertainty of the election result at the time.)
Before we started, we thought this would be an interesting challenge, as we’ve never actually had to make a show during an election campaign; there was the faux election campaign of 2013 which seemed to go on all year. But this one was announced on the Sunday before we went to air. We anticipated there would be a lot more late writing on a Tuesday, but that hasn’t happened, and the election hasn’t altered the way we approach it at all, but it has focused us on more domestic and election topics, so the shows by the nature, when the election’s not on, tend to be about a range of topics. This season seems to be about 60% about the election, each show. I don’t think it’s made any different to way we do it, just the content.

Who do you think would be the best Prime Minister for comedy’s sake?

I have a suspicion that the next time we see a conservative PM in this country it will be Scott Morrison and he’ll be great. There’s just a confidence and an uncompromising quality about him that would be very valuable to us. I hope Malcolm does well and manages to hold it all together, but I think the next one’s going to be ScoMo.
On the Labor side, I hope Bill Shorten stays with us forever, but I’d like to see Tanya Plibersek or it might be Mark Dreyfuss. I think him against ScoMo might be really interesting.

Do you feel any obligation to bring out the crowd favourites like the Zinger or the Kraken, or only if the flow feels right?

If it feels right. I think we’ve learned that sometimes we write things for characters because we like the character, but we just edit them out, because there’s no reason for the character to be there. The characters are always a delivery system for a joke, rather than the joke in itself. Having said that there we quite a few characters who didn’t have nothing to do with anything tonight.

Francis was all made up as Bobo just…

..to not be there, and leave, yes. Sometimes it’s nice to burn these things to have them and not use, rather than them having nothing to do and having them hang around for too long.

What makes you want to perform a character yourself instead of having the ensemble perform it, such as Cardinal Nosey?

I get sick of sitting behind the desk, and want to play with the rest of them.

[Roz yells] They’re all Rollie!

[Replies, with a smile] No they’re not. Roz thinks all the characters I do sound like Rollie, a character I did in the Micallef Program. Bill Duthie is basically Rollie, just basically an idiot. He was an earnest older man, unaware of his surrounds, and Roz has rightly picked me as simply doing that character in a variety of different voices. Sometimes not even that.

So speaking of characters, why did you choose The Odd Couple to perform with the MTC?

It’s a good play, very good piece of writing. There were three vehicles that I thought would be suitable for Francis and I. One was Sleuth by Antony Shaffer, The Sunshine Boys and The Odd Couple, both by Neil Simon. Amazingly, it was thought we were too young for The Sunshine Boys, so we might do that in a few years, so The Odd Couple was the one we picked.

Will this be set in the 60’s as original written?

I think 1965 was when it originally went to Broadway, and that’s where we’ll set it. There’s something about no mobile phones, there’s something about the attitude towards marriage and women that is best set in the period, otherwise you have to apologise for it and explain it away.

For the casting, you told the audience tonight that weren’t really fussed which role you played and left it up to the director?

I was hoping it would be Felix (the tidy one), so I’m pleased about that. I would have been happy to have played Oscar (the messy one), that would have been more of a challenge.

Francis says you’re the neater one, closer to Felix in real life.

I think maybe that’s true, but I think Francis could have more easily played both. I think Oscar would have been a bit harder for me, so it’s worked out well.

(One option was also to swap roles every night, but that was decidedly too much of a challenge.)

You’ve finished filming the three new Stairway to Heaven specials?

Yes, they’ll be on in August.

How was it with these compared to the first one-off? Did you go in looking for something different?

No it’s the same (quest), because I don’t think I got the answer. I got part of an answer, but I felt less pushed this time, because I had three chances to find the answer. We did get there, we did find out what it was. Luckily in the last episode!

Previously we’ve talking about how people all around the world still love Mr and Mrs Murder, and how the dialog between the characters was so natural. We also spoke about how your nickname for Nicola came about but Mike want’s to know about her’s for you, Chaka-khan?

I came up with Charlie to call her Fizzy, and Kat came up with Nicole to call him Chaka-khan. I guess that comes from Charlie, and it amused Kat. It just sounded close enough and like a pet name. I remember Kat laughing a lot, we were both amused by the characters.

And Mad As Hell is back next year?

I’m not sure if I’m meant to announce it, but yes, we’re back mid next-year. I get to say “see you next year” at the end of the last episode, which I can’t usually.

Will this be your last season at Gordon Street (which is due to close, and where Shaun has filmed most of his shows)?

I think we’re here next year, one more season.


Stay tuned for our interview with Francis!

Shaun’s 2016 dance card

David McGahan dancingThanks to a number of announcements over the last few months, we now have a fairly good idea of where/what/how you can see Shaun right through until the end of 2016:

The Ex-PM
No doubt you’re already aware, but Shaun’s new sitcom is all wrapped up and ready to air on Wednesday October 14th on ABC. Expect to see (or more accurately, hear) Shaun on radio over the preceding week promoting it. The show will air over 6 weeks.

Shooting of the “Stairway to Heaven” specials
There will be three new Stairway to Heaven specials to air on SBS in 2016, so Shaun will spend time filming these over the following few months. He has already been spotted in Salt Lake City, so there’s a fair bet Mormonism will be one of the faith’s explored. [Update: he revealed to The Advertiser that the other two would be about Catholicism in Brazil and another about apocalyptic churches preaching The Rapture in the US.]

Mad As Hell – May 2016
The ABC have given the first part of next year to Charlie Pickering’s show, so Mad As Hell is likely to slot in after it (the reverse of what happened this year). Shaun has pretty much confirmed its return, so hopefully the sixth season will line up with an election announcement to add some additional gold…

MTC Production: The Odd Couple – November 2016
For the latter half of the year, Shaun will join Francis Greenslade on the Melbourne Theatre Company stage for “The Odd Couple”. Neil Simon’s classic comedy about divorced men living together has been adapted and performed in many guises, and might be, perversely, the world’s funniest play about marriage. Watch the video to see Shaun and Francis discuss working together:

Stephen Hall’s new one-man show

Stephen Hall, one of the writers of Mad As Hell and star of Bond-A-Rama (and also interviewed on this site), is performing a new show at the Melbourne Fringe Festival during September and October: Raiders of the Temple of Doom’s Last Crusade.

As you might have guessed, it’s the first three Indiana Jones films (or all three, if you don’t count the fourth as being worthy) packed in to one hour.

Bond-A-Rama was a thoroughly entertaining show and Stephen is very funny, so if you’ve enjoyed any of the Indiana Jones films – you’re going to like this.

More information at https://www.facebook.com/raidersofthetempleofdoomslastcrusade. Tickets are on sale now.

Bond-A-Rama! is back

Stephen Hall and Michael Ward – both part of the writing team for Mad As Hell and many other Shaun related projects – are bringing back their stage show, Bond-A-Rama!

If you didn’t think it was possible to fit 22 James Bond films into 75 minutes – you were wrong! It’s all recreated, from the villians, the Bond girls. to the stunts and gadgets. Emily Taheny and Ben Anderson, both Micallef alumni, round out the cast.

I went to see it last year, and highly recommend it.  Whether you’re a true James Bond nut, or have just seen a few of the films, you’re going to enjoy this.

It’s playing at Chapel off Chapel in Melbourne for 4 weeks from the 17th October, with a national tour expected next year. Book tickets early and get a discount 🙂

Micallef with the SSO

This weekend, the Sydney Symphony is performing the music of US composer John Williams, and Shaun will be presenting it – although he promises to be ”sitting very quietly on a stool”.

John Williams is perhaps best known for composing the score for the Star Wars films, which earned him one of his five Oscars, as well as Jaws, the Harry Potter movies and Jurassic Park.

In an article with The Age/SMH, Shaun also admits he is an “acquired taste” (which makes it all the more better), always changing roles or scripts to suit himself; and reveals that the favourite of his TV show themes is “The Micallef Programme” (which makes a great ringtone).

Good Evening heads to Brisbane

Sydney and Melbourne have had the pleasure of seeing Shaun Micallef and Stephen Curry perform “Good Evening”; now it is Brisbane’s turn!

Good Evening is the sketches of Peter Cook and Dudley Moore, performed on stage in the traditional comedy revue style. Pete and Dud inspired a generation of comedians, including Monty Python,  Rowan Atkinson and of course, Shaun.

The show is on at the Brisbane Powerhouse from the November 3rd to 21st 2010. Tickets are on sale from 23rd August.

I saw the show during the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, and thought it was wonderful; from the still-fresh material to the superb performance. If you haven’t seen it yet, make sure you do! I also recommend the program too (they are always slightly overpriced) – plenty of background information on Pete and Dud and the performers.

Thanks to Lucy for the heads-up!