LITTLE ROCK As if to prove that women can be just as "odd" as men, in 1985 playwright Neil Simon adapted his comedy, The Odd Couple, so that a female version joined the lineup of possibilities.
The play had already gone through a few changes since its 1965 beginnings as a hit Broadway show, when "neat freak" Felix Ungar and slovenly Oscar Madison were portrayed by Art Carney and Walter Matthau, respectively. The play won three Tony Awards, including Best Author for Simon and Best Actor for Matthau (who was later replaced by Jack Klugman).
In 1968, Simon adapted the play for the screen, and the film version starred Jack Lemmonand Matthau, as did a sequel, The Odd Couple II, in 1998. A TV sitcom version starred Tony Randall and Klugman from 1970-75 and the two men were featured in a made-for-TV movie, The Odd Couple: Together Again, in 1993.
- Friday, April 11, 2008, 7:30 p.m.
- Arkansas School for the Blind
- $12 - $14
A black cast was tried in 1982 as The New Odd Couple, but only lasted 13 episodes.
In 1985, Simon revised the show for a female cast, turning Felix and Oscar into Florence (Sally Struthers) and Olive (Rita Moreno).
The Community Theater of Little Rock is doing the female version, which features Fran Jameson as Olive Madison, aTV news reporter who's described as "messy," and Juliana Flinn as Florence Ungar, described as a "neurotic 'neat freak' housewife."
The recently divorced Olive takes in recently separated Florence as a roommate, and the two struggle to get along with their different lifestyles.
Frank O. Butler is directing the play, which gives him a new feather in his theatrical cap.
"I've never directed a Neil Simon play and I kind of jumped at it when the opportunity came up," Butler says. "He's a very funny guy. A lot of the Oscar/Felix stuff is intact, albeit rearranged for femalescenarios.
"For instance, instead of a poker game, the women play Trivial Pursuit. And Mickey the cop is now a policewoman, and instead of a pair of English sisters, they were turned into the Costazuela brothers."
Others in the cast are Amanda Boggs as Sylvie, Niki Fakouri as Renee, Lisa Luyet as Vera, Sheila Stanfield as Mickey, Leon Tidwell as Manolo Costazuela and Michael Dennis as younger brother Jesus Costazuela.
While the show has a couple of episodes of strong language and one or two innuendoes, Butler says, "I'd consider it like a PG-level show."The Odd Couple
- Female Version 7:30 p.m. today-Friday and April 18-19 and 2 p.m. Sunday and April 20, Community Theater of Little Rock, Woolly Auditorium, Arkansas School for the Blind, 2600 W.
Markham St., Little Rock Tickets: $14; $12 students and senior citizens over 55 (501) 663-9494
Weekend, Pages 78 on 04/11/2008