A double date with 'Odd Couple'

2 versions for twice the laughs
By Meredith Pechta, Theater Reviewer | Aug 21, 2013
Courtesy of: Outcast Players The male cast of “The Odd Couple” are: Pat Reagan, T.J Burzynski, Bob Nydegger, Curt Shriner, Ric Calhoun and Scott Freshman.

“The Odd Couple” is one of the funniest and most beloved of any of Neil Simon’s plays. The Outcast Players have taken it upon themselves to present both of Simon’s versions – one female, the other male.

The version with two men has been made famous by the 1968 movie and the TV series from the 1970s of the same name, but most are unaware that there was also a script that features two women who try living together despite their differences.

The original story goes like this: Oscar is a newly divorced man. He a compulsive slob and over his head in alimony. His social life revolves around a weekly poker game with five friends.

One of his poker friends is Felix – Oscar’s polar opposite. He’s a hypochondriac extraordinaire. And a compulsive cleaner. When Felix unexpectedly gets a divorce as well, Oscar takes pity on him and takes him in as a roommate.

Their differing lifestyles lead to some conflicts and some laughs.

The remake, on the other hand, has the divorcee Olive. She, too, is a slob and has her friends over to play games. They just play Trivial Pursuit instead.

And then there’s Florence, the high-maintenance basket-case who’s just been thrown out by her husband.

In both versions, there is a funny double date with the roommates neighbors. In the male version, their date is with two British sisters. In the female version, it’s two Italian brothers.

All of the dialogue is similar, but the female version is transposed so that it sounds more like how women talk. Both are hilarious and heart-breaking.

These Outcast Players productions are a family affair: Some in the cast are siblings, while others are spouses. And some of the actors are in both casts.

Leading the female cast are L. Sam Samano and Laura Shriner. Samano makes for great Olive. She talks a tough game, but melts whenever she hears a sob story.

The exasperating Florence is played by the wonderful Laura Shriner who also acts as director. Her performance is equally funny and frightening. You understand why people like her, but also why you’d never want her around for more than two hours at a time.

Their weekly game night friends are played by Skye Grace, Cheryl Jones, Iris Lilly and Teri Calhoun. Sky Grace and Teri Calhoun play the very extroverted Rene and Sylvie. Cheryl Jones is and sweet and naïve Vera. And Iris Lilly is the level-headed cop Mickey.

The two Italian brothers that Olive and Florence double-date with are played by Asa Sholdez and Jerry Vorhies.

The male cast is lead by Ric Calhoun and Curt Shriner. Ric Calhoun manages to find the balance between alpha-male and amiable friend. Curt Shriner is a terrific Felix as well as a fine director. His self-involved loathing and sulking are very sympathetic and hilarious.

Their poker buddies Roy, Speed, Murray and Vinnie are played by Bob Nydegger, Pat Reagan Scott Freshman and T.J. Burzynski II. Bob Nydegger and Pat Reagan play the continually complaining Roy and Speed.

The competent Murray is well played by Scott Freshman. And T.J. Burzynski II is the mild-mannered Vinnie.

The two hip British chicks that Felix and Oscar try to hook up with are played by Skye Grace and Aleesha Paddlefoot.

With two versions of “The Odd Couple,” the battle of the sexes has never been funnier. But if you can, try to see both versions. You’ll have twice as many laughs.

Both versions of “The Odd Couple” are playing at the Historic Everett Theater. The female version is showing Aug. 15,17, 23, 25, 29 and 31. The male version is showing Aug. 16,18, 22, 24 and 30 and Sept. 1. For ticket information call 425-258-6766.

Also: Don’t miss Historic Everett Theater’s live broadcast of the Seahawks vs. 49ers game on Sept. 15. Tickets are $10, and include a seat to see the game on the theater screen and a catered meal from Craving Cajun Grill.

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