Those attending this August’s production of “The Odd Couple” at Okoboji Summer Theatre in Spirit Lake, Iowa, will be in for a special treat. Mark Taylor and Rob Doyen, both alumni from the Stephens College Theatre program, will play the principals, Felix Ungar and Oscar Madison, respectively. They will perform alongside second-year Stephens theatre students and other guest artists as part of the 59th season of the summer stock theatre.
In “The Odd Couple,” new bachelors Felix (an uptight neat-freak) and Oscar (an easygoing slob) decide over a game of cards to live together. Their personalities clash as they attempt to make lives of their own in this “wildly and irresistibly funny” play by Neil Simon. Bernard Monroe will guest direct this timeless Tony Award-winning classic, which will be performed Aug. 2-7.
Taylor will return to the ’Boji stage as a guest artist 44 years after he first performed as a theatre student at Stephens. He has been married to fellow Stephens graduate Judy Doyen Taylor for over 40 years. She is the senior vice president of casting and talent relations for Disney Channel.
“Those magical ’Boji summers laid the foundation for much of the rest of my life,” Taylor said. “I was lucky enough to have many terrific parts there and the condensed rehearsal period (about two weeks) taught me the importance of preparing for a role with minimum rehearsal. This was invaluable when I started to work in film and television where rehearsal time is even more condensed.”
Taylor has had a career in Hollywood that spans four decades and includes television (M*A*S*H to Seinfeld), film (Arachnophobia and High School Musical 2), and voiceover animation (Superman to Super Friends). He also has directed productions for Lifetime, The Disney Channel and several theatres in L.A.
“Sharing the stage with my brother-in-law, Rob Doyen, in one of Neil Simon’s best plays makes this another ’Boji summer I will never forget,” says Taylor, who is also a member of the Stephens College Board of Trustees.
Doyen, a resident actor/professor in the Stephens College School of Performing Arts, is looking forward to performing alongside Taylor for the first time ever. What makes the experience meaningful on another level for Doyen is the fact that “The Odd Couple” is the first show he performed in as a student at ’Boji in 1968.
“I was one of the poker players along with a young Fritz Lennon,” he said. “I remember the two actors playing Oscar and Felix, George Spach and Bill Aragon, were very good, and we played to full houses all week. What a joy to bring it back to the ’Boji stage acting alongside Mark, who is more like a brother to me than an in-law. We have both been in the business for over 40 years (Mark in L.A. and myself at Stephens) but have never been on the stage together. I look forward to his homecoming to the Lakes area, and I am thrilled to have the opportunity to share the stage with such a talented, generous and proud fellow Stephens alumnus.”
Doyen teaches acting, directing and musical theatre at Stephens and also serves as associate artistic director at ’Boji. He has already performed in this summer’s OST productions of “There Goes the Bride” and “You Can’t Take it With You,” and he will act in the season’s finale, “The Sound of Music.”
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