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Local performers part of the Odd Couple

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The summer of 2014 will be a memorable one for Estevan's Jan Michael Bourgeois and Joshua Pele.

Bourgeois and Pele are part of the cast for The Odd Couple, the comedy that is the second production at the Souris Valley Theatre this summer. Opening night for the play is July 23.

Both actors will appear in the play's poker scenes. Bourgeois plays Vinny, a whining regular at the poker games who often winds up as the scapegoat for the other card players. Pele plays Roy, who is also a frequent complainer and poker player.

Pele's Roy is also the accountant for Oscar, who is one of the main characters.

Bourgeois said the Souris Valley Theatre's version of The Odd Couple is very similar to the famous 1968 movie. This play is set in the mid-1960s, and tells the story of mismatched roommates Felix and Oscar.

But there are some subtle differences, Pele said.

“Expect the unexpected, because a lot of people have seen the television show and seen the movie, and the director, Kenn (McLeod), has thrown in a lot of different things in there that you normally wouldn't expect,” said Pele.

Not only are Bourgeois and Pele excited about the opportunity to perform, but their friends and family are also pumped.

“They're really excited to see some locals in the show,” said Pele.

A couple members of Bourgeois' extended family are coming from Colorado to see the show.

Rehearsals have been great, they said.

“Sunday (July 13), we did a full run-through of the play,” said Bourgeois. “So rehearsals are going well; everyone's getting along. The cast is friendly and brilliant. This has been a heck of a great time.”

They have spent several hours a day rehearsing since July 8. Monday represents their only day off each week.

Pele was hired to be part of the cast several months ago, after he was hired to be one of the instructors for the theatre's summer youth camps. Theatre manager Jocelyn Anderson asked if he wanted to be in The Odd Couple.

He's been in numerous theatre productions already – including high school musicals in Estevan and Lampman – and he attended the Missoula Children's Theatre's summer arts camp seven times.

He just wrapped up his first year of theatre education classes at the University of Northern Colorado.

But The Odd Couple represents his first foray in a professional live theatre production, and Pele said he has learned so much.

“I'm going to school for theatre and everything, and I'm … learning so much more from Kenn (artistic director Kenn McLeod), and all the other actors,” said Pele.

Pele said he is realizing that he has to be open-minded about everything that happens on-stage.

“Everything that you've been told about the theatre from professors is all kind of true – how fast it goes, and how you have to be on your feet and on your toes, and ready for anything to change at any time,” said Pele.

Bourgeois, who recently completed his undergraduate degree for music and music education at the University of Saskatchewan, has been studying French on the east coast since convocating this spring. He was asked to join the cast of The Odd Couple after Anderson spoke to Bourgeois' mother about an opening in the play for a poker player.

"I'm only in Estevan for the month, so it kind of worked out perfectly that the dates lined up," said Bourgeois.

Bourgeois did some theatre work in high school, and he isn't a stranger to the stage, but most of his experience in the arts has been through singing or playing a musical instrument.

"The theatre bit is a bit of a new art opening for me, and I'm really excited to have the opportunity to do that," he said.

While he didn't go to university to enter the theatre realm, he said his experiences with The Odd Couple will be beneficial if he ever becomes involved with musicals once he becomes a school music educator.

Bourgeois and Pele have attended theatre productions in the past, and they enjoyed the plays that have been shown. They believe it's great that Estevan has a venue where people can watch live theatre in the summer months. Pele even helped out at the theatre's concession last year.

Performances for The Odd Couple run nightly from July 23 to 26 at 7:30 p.m., with a 2 p.m. matinee on July 24. Performances will be Tuesday to Saturday nights from July 29 to August 9, with matinee shows on July 31 and August 7.


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