By Josh Whitener
Get ready to see the hilarity that ensues when opposites attract as Matthews Playhouse of the Performing Arts’ Theatre Matthews presents “The Odd Couple (Female Version).”
Performances are scheduled for June 21 and 22 at 8 p.m., June 23 at 2 p.m., June 28 and 29 at 8 p.m. and June 30 at 2 p.m. at Fullwood Theater, 100 E. McDowell St. in Matthews. Tickets range from $12 to $15 and are available online at www.matthewsplayhouse.com.
“The Odd Couple (Female Version),” written by Neil Simon and directed by Jill Bloede, follows a storyline similar to the classic film and television show, “The Odd Couple.” The main difference, though, is the two leads are female.
Florence Unger and Olive Madison – two recently divorced friends – try sharing an apartment in New York, but their two vastly different philosophies on housekeeping generate hilarious conflict.
“It’s funny and suitable for our audiences,” June Bayless, artistic director for Matthews Playhouse, said. “… We haven’t done a comedy in a long time that’s not a musical. It’s a well written script, it’s all character driven, it’s hysterical … It’s going to be a great evening of entertainment.”
Local actresses Mara Rosenberg and Rebecca Costas will play the roles of Olive and Florence, respectively. These female characters carry many of the same character traits as their male counterparts, the actresses said.
“She’s a bit of a slob,” Rosenberg said about her character, Olive. “She has a connection still to her ex that’s probably not really healthy, and she has a temper.”
Costas’ character, Florence, is the complete opposite.
“She’s completely neurotic, Type A, tightly wound, a hypochondriac,” Costas said. “She gets hysterical at the drop of a dime. It’s fun to play her because she can be completely dramatic.”
The two actresses say, in many ways, their characters are quite different from their own personalities. But Rosenberg and Costas said they’ve pulled inspiration from watching the classic film and TV show, as well as observing people they know who exhibit these personality traits.
“(I’ve) been around people who are very passionate about stuff, blow up quick but mellow out quickly. I have some experience watching that,” Rosenberg said. Plus, she said, “I know what it feels like when someone gets on your nerves … It’s kind of fun because (in the play) I get to explode all over the place.”
The play is one of two productions Theatre Matthews presents each year. After a much more extravagant winter production, “White Christmas,” Bayless said she wanted to keep Theatre Matthews’ summer play simple. The production features a cast of eight (six women and two men) and includes a unit set – a single set that remains on stage throughout the entire performance.
The story takes place in a small, two-bedroom New York apartment and is set in the 1980s. Bayless said the costumes and hairstyles are true to the time period, creating an authentic 1980s feel.
“We have a dynamite costume designer,” she said. “… It will take you back to the 80s, and if you didn’t live in the 80s, you can learn about it.”
Costas said rehearsals have gone smoothly.
“We’re laughing constantly in rehearsals at each other and the script,” she said. “Working (with) comedy – and a really funny comedy – makes it so much more enjoyable. It’s a funny performance. (The audience) can expect to laugh and have fun and just be entertained for the night.”