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GCT prepares for ‘The Odd Couple/Female Version’

‘The Odd Couple/Female Version’ by Neil Simon is coming to the Golden Chain Theatre for three weekends in August.

The original version of The Odd Couple got a 180-degree spin in 1985 when Simon re-wrote it for a female cast. The neurotic, fastidiously clean Felix Unger, and the sloppy, casual roommate Oscar Madison, became Florence Unger, and Olive Madison. The English Pigeon sisters were transformed into the Spanish Costazuela brothers, and instead of poker, the girls gather to play Trivial Pursuit.

The show had a very successful Broadway run of 295 performances with Sally Struthers (All in the Family) as Florence, and Rita Moreno (West Side Story) playing Olive. Tony Shalhoub (Monk) made his Broadway debut as Jesus Costazuela.

Simon’s humor essentially comes from the difficulties human beings have maintaining relationships. The women bicker, snipe and complain. Some of them don’t even particularly like each other. Men are, for the most part, a topic full of confusion, frustration and unhappiness – only Vera, played by Miranda Simonich, in her blissful lack of awareness, seems content with her marriage.

Yet once a week they gather as friends to badger each other, to gossip about life and to play a game based on trivia.

This Golden Chain Production, directed by Peter Clarke, is made up of a diverse and talented cast whose chemistry has brought the hilarious, yet often touching, humor of Simon’s play fully alive.

Cast members include leads Sarah Persson (Florence), and Jennifer Varner (Olive), and supporting cast members Melinda Rich (Mickey), Miranda Simonich (Vera), Stephanie Brock (Sylvie), Judy Weiss (Renee), George Rich (Manolo Costazuela), and Jordan Michael (Jesus Costazuela).

Simon is widely regarded as one of the most successful, prolific and performed playwrights in the world. In addition to The Odd Couple, additional plays and musicals to his credit include “Lost In Yonkers,” which won a Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize, “Come Blow Your Horn,” “Barefoot in the Park,” “Sweet Charity,” “The Star-Spangled Girl,” “Plaza Suite, “Last of the Red Hot Lovers,” “The Sunshine Boys,” “California Suite,” “Chapter Two,” and “The Goodbye Girl.”

The original movie “The Odd Couple,” starred Jack Lemon (Felix) and Walter Mattaw (Oscar), followed by the televison version starring Tony Randall, and Jack Klugman.

The Odd couple/Female Version opens at 7 p.m., Friday, and Saturday, Aug. 14 and 15, with a 2 p.m. manatee Sunday, Aug. 16. Additional performances Aug. 21-23, and Aug. 28-30.

Details: Golden Chain Theatre, 42130 Highway 41, Oakhurst: Tickets: $15 general, $12 seniors, $10 students and military, $8 children (4-12). Group rates available. Reserve seats at www.goldenchaintheatre.org, or (559) 683-7112.

- Staff Report

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