The iconic characters of Felix Unger and Oscar Madison, from Neil Simon’s play “The Odd Couple,” will show up in female form in an alternative version of the production this weekend at High Desert Center for the Arts, 15615 Eighth St., Victorville.
According to Director Virginia “Gini” Watterson, the play is every bit as hilarious as the original and even goes a step further in its delivery of timely messages that still remain hot topics for women from all walks of life.
“The male version was hip and cutting edge in the 1960s when it came out but not so much today,” said Watterson, a longtime resident of Apple Valley. “But the female version has stood the test of time and hits on topics that are still as relevant for women today as they were back then. For instance, equal pay and single motherhood.”
“The Odd Couple” is being produced by the High Desert-based theatrical company, Creative Arts Theater.
Act One of the show takes place in Olive Madison’s (Emily Ruiz) messy apartment where she is hosting a ladies' night out with a few friends. While the girls are playing Trivial Pursuit, Florence Unger (Karen Ayres) shows up late and is on the brink of suicide after breaking up with her husband. She has nowhere else to go, so Olive takes her in.
During Act Two, the roommates clash over their vastly different ways of behavior and in the end, must learn to accept and acknowledge one another’s differences.
“This show is really about how two people who are very different must learn how to cohabitate together,” said Watterson. “It will make you laugh a lot but also will give you something to think about and maybe even open up some dialogue between yourself and those who come to see it with you.
“It’s been said that people do not listen to understand, they listen to respond. That’s something to be mindful of, especially with everything that’s going on in the world today.”
The original “The Odd Couple” premiered on Broadway in 1965 and inspired the film of the same title in 1968, which starred Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau.
It grossed over $44.5 million, making it the fourth highest-grossing picture of 1968. Its success sparked the creation of the television sitcom “The Odd Couple,” which starred Tony Randall as Felix and Jack Klugman as Oscar.
A sequel to the original film, “The Odd Couple II,” was released in 1998 and reunited Lemmon and Matthau in their original roles.
“Neil Simon is amazing and whether ‘The Odd Couple’ is done with men or women, it’s very, very funny,” said Cherie Glisson, owner of Creative Arts Theater. “It will be nice for audiences to see it presented from a female perspective and also enjoy the talents of our awesome cast.”
“The Odd Couple” will be presented at 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and at 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $16 general admission and $14 for students and seniors. Purchase at www.creativeartstheater.com.