OFF BEAT

OFFBEAT: Female spin of Neil Simon's 'Odd Couple' this month at Chicago's Greenhouse Theatre

Phil Potempa's daily entertainment news column
2013-09-28T00:00:00Z OFFBEAT: Female spin of Neil Simon's 'Odd Couple' this month at Chicago's Greenhouse TheatreBy Philip Potempa philip.potempa@nwi.com, (219) 852-4327 nwitimes.com

Back in 2000, I recall catching a very funny female version of Neil Simon's "The Odd Couple" when it played a sold-out 10-week run at Apollo Theater in Chicago starring actresses Barbara Eden and Rita McKenzie in the plum roles.

Robert Bills Productions is presenting a new female version productions of "The Odd Couple," Simon's 1985 adaptation of his Tony Award-winning Broadway comedy, at Greenhouse Theater Center, 2257 N. Lincoln Ave, previewing Oct. 17, opening Friday, Oct. 18 and running through Sunday, Nov. 10.

For this switch-up, "Felix" and "Oscar" are "Florence" and "Olive" in what is billed as a "riotously funny play" centered around the two wildly mismatched roommates living together in New York City. Robert Bills is directing.

It follows fun-loving and messy Olive Madison and neurotic neat-freak Florence Unger, who come to live together after their respective marriages fail. Joined by their group of witty Trivial Pursuit playing friends and a pair of suave Spanish neighbors, the best friends soon realize they make the worst of roommates. After only three weeks, they have driven each other crazy, disagreeing about responsibility, cleanliness, personal space and everything in between. Olive and Florence attempt to reconcile each other’s idiosyncrasies while rekindling their respective social lives, with side-splitting results.

Earlier this year, we were treated to the traditional male version of "The Odd Couple" stage up at Northlight Theatre in Skokie starring Tim Kazurinsky and George Wendt in the title roles. (Because of illness, Wendt had to bow out and was replaced by Marc Grapey.)

"The Odd Couple" began as Simon's original hit 1965 Tony Award-winning play, which was made into an Academy Award-nominated film and an Emmy Award-winning TV series. The female version of the production originally premiered on Broadway in 1986, starring Sally Struthers and Rita Moreno.

This latest production stars Jeff Award-winner Elaine Carlson as Florence and Missy Styles as Olive. The production also features "Guiding Light" soap actress Meghan Powe as Vera, Kristen Williams as Mickey the Cop, Debra Rodkin as Sylvie, Darcie Bender as Renee, Cesar Jaime as Jesus and Dagoberto Soto as Manolo.

The artistic team includes Scenic and Properties Design by T. Paul Lowry, Lighting Design by Cat Wilson and Costume Design by Delena Bradley.

This production will run at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Sundays at Greenhouse Theater Center. Ticket prices range from $20 for students/seniors and groups to $28 for general admission. For tickets, call the Greenhouse Theater Box Office at (773) 404-7336 or visit greenhousetheater.org. The Box Office is open Wednesday through Saturday from noon to 8 p.m. and Sundays from noon to 4 p.m.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer. He can be reached at philip.potempa@nwi.com or (219) 852-4327.

Copyright 2014 nwitimes.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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