Life lessons help director shape The Odd Couple

Linda Kash

Linda Kash

Linda Kash has learned in life and in the theater there are some things you just can’t control.

Kash, a veteran actor who is became a household face as TV’s Philadelphia Cream Cheese Angel, is directing Victoria Playhouse Petrolia’s current production of the Neil Simon classic, The Odd Couple.

Jonathan Ellul (Oscar) and Mark Weatherely (Felix) headline the 40 year old tale which still stands the test of time because, Kash says, it is ultimately about something everyone can relate to – relationships.

This is Kash’s first time in the directors’ chair in a major theater production and says while she has brought her own physical comedy style to the Petrolia play, Simon’s meticulous writing needs little embellishment. “I’m used to making the most of things, making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. This is already a silk purse; the challenge is to do what Neil Simon wants you to do.”

The key to The Odd Couple, Kash says, is timing “keep the rollercoaster going so the audience doesn’t know what’s coming next.”

And she says Ellul and Weatherley do that beautifully. “They are so meant for the parts.”

The veteran of TV is enjoying her turn as director but admits it is a lot different than actually being on the stage performing.

“I don’t have control,” says Kash. “I’m just guiding the thing and staying true to the writer…then I wave it off at the dock and I’m done.”

Recognizing she doesn’t have control of everything is a tough lesson Kash has also learned in life in the last year. In 2012, her husband actor Paul O’Sullivan died suddenly in a car accident. It was just days after she opened as Bella in the Toronto production of Lost in Yonkers.

Another actress was called in to take over, but Kash committed to closing the show, just three weeks after her husband had died, so it could finish its run. Kash says it was “crazy” but she did it.

“I had to prove something to myself and my children. I was going to be okay. If I was going to be okay then they were going to be okay. And I didn’t want the production to lose money.”

Kash has weathered the grief of losing the person she was prepared to grow old with and recognized that there are things she simply can’t control.

And she had to conquer her fears. “After Paul died, I thought ‘I’ll never be funny again. I’ll never be able to do that again.’”

But she’s discovering that’s not true as she co-hosts a morning radio show in her hometown of Peterborough, a job she continues – through the power of the internet – as she directs The Odd Couple in Petrolia.

“I’ve never considered myself a jokester,” says Kash adding her radio job has “taught me to be quick, trusting my instincts and I’m going for it.”

The Odd Couple runs until June 30 at Victoria Playhouse Petrolia.

– Heather Wright