Pat Sajak, the famed long-time host of “Wheel of Fortune” who served a tour of duty in Vietnam during the war as a radio deejay with AFVN, occasionally steps out from the “Wheel” set to do other show biz work. That includes this week, as Sajak is co-starring in a production of the famed Neil Simon comedy “The Odd Couple” through July 7 at the Harriet S. Jorgensen Theater on the University of Connecticut campus in Storrs. It is a summer production of the University’s Connecticut Repertory Theater.
Anyone who knows the play (or the movie or TV show) won’t be surprised that Sajak is playing Felix Unger, the obsessive-compulsive half of the quite odd couple. Oscar Madison, the slob sportswriter, is played by Joe Moore, who served in Vietnam with Sajak. These days Moore’s day job is news anchor on KHON-TV in Honolulu.
According to the favorable review of the show in the July 1 The New York Times , Sajak–who received VVA’s Excellence in the Arts Award at the Louisville Convention in 2009–and Moore have appeared in three other shows together, including “The Odd Couple” in Hawaii in 2001.
Times reviewer Anita Gates says of Moore: “If you were in the casting director’s office looking for an Oscar Madison-type, and came across Mr. Moore’s photograph, it would probably go to the top of the pile. The role fits him well, and he does a fine job as the gruff, put-upon Oscar.
Sajak “is as personable onstage as he is on TV, maybe even more so, ” Gates opines. “His Felix is properly oblivious to his own flaws and appropriately appalled by filth, but there is little fervor or palpable purpose in his domestic madness.” Sajak, she goes on to say, “does best as a straight man” and “when Felix is outraged. One of his nicest moments is an Act II encounter in which Oscar has come home late for a dinner party and reveals how little he knows about cooking. Felix shouts the main verbs with believable exasperation as he explains: ‘You have to make gravy. It doesn’t come .’ Then, heaven help him, Oscar refers to a ladle as a spoon.”