One of the most successful local theatre runs in recent memory, the Tybee Arts Performing Society production of Neil Simon's classic The Odd Couple moves to the Landings for two shows this week, under the auspices of Savannah Community Theatre.
There's a catch, though: Felix and Oscar are now Florence and Olive.
"Neil Simon updated and modernized it, and put women into the roles," explains Reneé DeRossett, who plays "slob" Olive (Walter Matthau played the original role of Oscar on Broadway, Jack Klugman on the TV show). "The characters are familiar and there are similar jokes and bits, but the way it's written is new and fresh."
The effect has been "magic every night," says DeRossett, whose opposite number as Florence is Kim Trammell Schneider. "I've never seen an audience grabbing their faces and guffawing like this."
"The audiences just seem to gulp it up," agrees director Barry Finch, who's contemplating bringing the show back to the beach one weekend a month during the summer "for the tourists."
Finch and DeRossett both ascribe the show's success to chemistry.
"Reneé and Kim are absolutely perfect - typecasting of course," laughs Finch, who also praises other cast members for their work in this "once in a lifetime" production.
Finch says one particularly good omen was the fact that the cast was "off book," i.e., knew all their lines, a month before opening.
"I gave out the scripts before Christmas, and we didn't start rehearsals until Jan. 14. So that gave them time to get the characters and the dialogue down. Of course when a director works with people who know their lines, it works. That's the key to success."
Everyone is quick to say that while the all-female casting is an interesting twist, that has less to do with the show's success than with the great writing.
"It's just one of Neil Simon's better plays," says Finch, who adds that likely the only reason the show's not performed more often on local stages around the country is because of high royalties. "For a 60-seat theatre, $125 a night is hard, especially at the community theatre level," he says. "We try to keep the price low, though."
Savannah Community Theatre presents The Odd Couple (female version)
When: April 22, April 23, 8 pm
Where: Plantation Club, The Landings
Info: (912) 238-2888, www.savannahcommunitytheatre.com
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