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Spotlight: Nothing odd about this couple

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Christina Stock Photo Pictured from left are Josh Carrell as charming Manolo Costazuela, Michele Massey as sloppy Olive, Chris Samuels as witty Jesus Costazuela and Denise Samuels as tidy Florence in Roswell Community Little Theatre's comedy, "The Odd Couple," female version. In this scene the brothers Costazuela are flirting with the girlfriends who couldn't be more different.

Roswell Community Little Theatre presents ‘The Odd Couple,’ female version

By Christina Stock

Vision Editor

The Roswell Community Little Theatre, 1717 S. Union Ave., is bringing Neil Simon’s comedy, “The Odd Couple,” to stage with female characters.

Showings will be Nov. 15 to 17 and 22 to 24, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m.

The play is directed by Gina Montague. “I hadn’t seen the female version, but the reason I chose it was because we have a hard time getting enough men to audition, so this makes it easier, there are six women and two men. And I love the jokes, it’s super-funny and it’s a different take on a classic favorite,” Montague said.

The original play “The Odd Couple” premiered on Broadway in 1965, the characters were revived in a successful 1968 film and 1970s television series. When Simon reinvented the play with female characters in 1985, he was way ahead of his time. The major critics — all men — did not understand the humor in the reverse roles. Today, this hilarious version is having a revival in community theaters throughout the United States and overseas.

This version sees the lead characters transformed into Olive Madison (cast with Michele Massey) and Florence Unger (cast with Denise Samuels). According to Simons’ description of “The Odd Couple,” female version script, which RCLT has the rights for, the storyline is as follows: “Olive and their group of girlfriends are enjoying their weekly Trivial Pursuit night in Olive’s messy and ill-equipped apartment. As the game continues, Florence arrives, fresh from being dumped by her husband. Fearful that the neurotic Florence might attempt suicide, Olive invites her to move in as her roommate. However, Olive and Florence have very different personalities. Where Olive is messy, untidy, and unconcerned about the state of her apartment, Florence is obsessively clean, tidy and obsessed with hygiene. Olive’s easy-going outlook on life soon clashes with Florence’s highly-strung neurotic tendencies, testing their friendship to the limit. When Olive organizes a double-date with the Costazuela brothers (Josh Carrell as Manolo and Chris Samuels as Jesus), their differences come to a head and sparks fly.”

The girlfriends are Viridiana Leon as Mickey, Shelby Halvorson as Sylvia, Louise Montague as Vera and Tricia Hart as Renee.

“I love working with these women,” Massey said. “It’s just very empowering and it’s a wonderful energy. I feel very connected with all the women.

“I absolutely love visual (painting, drawing, designing sets and making costumes) and performing arts,” Massey said. “My passion for theatre began in 1979 when I played Helen Keller in ‘The Miracle Worker.’ Since then I have been involved in over 100 productions — on stage and behind the scenes — in Kansas, Nebraska and New Mexico. I love doing character roles with accents and love working with young people in all aspects of theater production.”

The entire cast are pros on and off stage, having performed regularly at RCLT.

“I am super-proud of my cast,” Gina Montague said. “They are knowledgable and experienced, and I am very proud of them and super lucky that they came out to audition for me.”

Asked how she would describe her character, Denise Samuels said with a chuckle, “She is very neat and tidy and organized to the point that it makes her crazy. But she loves her family and she loves her friends. She is separated from her husband and her good friend Olive has taken her in. She tries to make Olive’s life better and it doesn’t quite work out that way.”

“Olive works in the newsroom, she is very orderly in her work in the newsroom, but here — at home — that’s not where her head is, that’s not where the energy is,” Massey said about her character.

The two brothers playing the love-interest of Olive are originally from Spain. Chris Samuels said that both brothers are liking Florence best, “I play Jesus (pronounced Chesus),” he said. “The accent is rough to do. I like doing different stuff.”

Asked how he likes the role reversal, Carol said, “Oh, I love it, it’s hilarious.”

“It’s really funny, the girls do a phenomenal job,” Chris Samuels said. “Come on out and you won’t be disappointed.”

For more information, visit roswelltheatre.com or call 575-622-1982.