PORT ANGELES — Sparks will fly when a fastidious neat freak moves in with a slovenly woman on the Port Angeles Community Playhouse stage.
Florence Ungar, portrayed by Janet Lucas, and Olive Madison, portrayed by Lynne Murphy, square off in the female version of “The Odd Couple” written by Neil Simon.
The 10 performance run of the play opens at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Port Angeles Community Playhouse (PACP), 1235 E. Lauridsen Blvd., in Port Angeles.
It will continue at 7:30 p.m. Thursday and Dec. 2-3, Dec. 6 and Dec. 8- 10. Afternoon showings will be at 2 p.m. Dec. 4 and Dec. 11.
Tickets for evening performances are $15 for reserved seating or $8 at the door for festival seating, excepting the Dec. 8 performance which is sold out.
Tickets for the Sunday afternoon performances are $15 for reserved seating and $8 for students.
Tickets are available online at www.pa communityplayers.com.
The play, which premiered on Broadway in 1965 with two males cast as the lead characters, was revised by Simon in 1985 based on the same story line and same lead characters, albeit with new names.
Olive and Florence
In the female version, Oscar becomes Olive while Felix becomes Florence.
“The story by itself is not much different from an original male version,” said Dmitri Gerasimenko, who is directing the PACP run of “The Odd Couple.”
“Neil Simon kept the best from [the] original story, edited it and, as the result, we got [a] super play for six female and two male actors. We have experienced actors who had dozens of roles in this theater and we have the beginners, who have never been on the stage before.”
The cast consists of Debbie Bourquin as Sylvie; Stephanie Gooch as Mickey; Nancy Gooch as Vera; Jenifer Hawley as Renee; Joe Schulz as Manolo Costazuela; and Ken Winters as Jesus Costazuela.
The set was created with the help of Marina Shipova and Ross Kavanaugh, with all costumes designed by Barbara Comer.
The PACP production originally was planned to be the male version, said Barb Frederick, PACP publicity coordinator.
“When we choose plays for a season we look at many factors, one of them is if we have the actors needed to fill the roles, but we are never completely sure,” she said.
“This time we just didn’t have the available men, but we had a number of women who were interested so the logical thing to do was to change the play.”
Said Gerasimenko: “Life made [a] small correction, and now we are presenting the story of two women trying to work out their differences.”
In the play, Ungar moves in with Madison — her complete opposite. Despite Madison’s problems – careless spending, excessive gambling, a poorly kept house filled with spoiled food – she seems to enjoy life.
Ungar, however, seems utterly incapable of enjoying anything and only finds purpose in pointing out her own and other’s shortcomings. Even when she tries to do so in a gentle and constructive way, Ungar’s corrections and suggestions prove extremely annoying to those around her.
Madison, Ungar’s closest friend, feels compelled to throw her out after only a brief time together, though she quickly realizes that Ungar has had a positive effect on her.
Gerasimenko said he and his cast have enjoyed rehearsing for the play, a comedy.
“Certainly, comedy has some rules which are very different from tragedy or drama,” he said.
“I guess, that we have plenty of dramas and even tragedies in our reality — especially lately — so this comedy gives us a chance to have an extra shot of laughter.”
Comedies, Gerasimenko continued, “have the happy endings, so the whole process to this end is lighter — I wouldn’t say easier — than in drama or tragedy. It is easier to rehearse when you know that everyone will survive and all will be well.”
Gerasimenko is a recent transplant to Port Angeles, having been raised in Russia and moving to Minnesota in 1998.
He holds a master’s degree in theatre from the Russia State Theatre Academy in Saint Petersburg and worked as a professional actor for about 10 years before moving to the United States, he said.
In Minnesota, Gerasimenko said he founded Dances on High Theatre where he directed many plays in English and Russian.
Gerasimenko and his wife, Jan Adams, moved to Port Angeles full time about one year ago, he said, adding he became involved with PACP.
“I was amazed by this charming theatre — Port Angeles Community Players — which desperately needs sponsors and volunteers,” he said.
“In Playhouse, I met many [talented], dedicated people who love theatre, care about this form of art and [are] open for new experiences.”
Last spring, Gerasimenko directed two one-act comedies by Anton Chekhov.
“That project was supported in the great way by the community and PACP staff,” he said.
“I wish some of the companies I worked with could have the level of expertise and professionalism as [the] PACP team.”
For more information, visit www.pacommunity players.com.
Features Editor Chris McDaniel can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56650, or at [email protected] peninsuladailynews.com.