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Warren Gerds/Critic at Large: ‘The Odd Couple, Female Version’ opens this week in Baileys Harbor

Critic At Large

Rogue Theater

Lola DeVillers, left, as Florence Unger and Jamie Buesing as Olive Madison rehearse a scene for the Rogue Theater production of “The Odd Couple, Female Version.” (Troupe photo)

BAILEYS HARBOR, Wis. (WFRV)

Rogue Theater will present the Neil Simon comedy “The Odd Couple, Female Version” starting Aug. 22 in Baileys Harbor Town Hall.

Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 22-24; 2 p.m. Aug. 25; 7:30 p.m. Aug. 29-31; and 2 p.m. Sept. 1. Info: (920) 818-0816.

According to a news release: Neil Simon’s hugely successful play “The Odd Couple” is best known as a 1960s and ’70s staple of stage and screen, the comic story of a pair of mismatched middle-aged roommates. In 1985, Simon decided to update the popular play, with a twist. The result, “The Odd Couple, Female Version,” is a natural choice for Rogue Theater.

The opposites this time are Olive Madison, played by Jamie Buesing, and Florence Unger, played by Lola DeVillers. The two characters, despite their differences, are good friends who care about each other.

Aside from their housekeeping habits, their previous married lives were very different: Flo was a stay-at-home mother and homemaker who doted on her husband. Olive was the breadwinner, a sports TV producer with no kids who, despite her clear independence and no need for marital support, is still a bit hung up on her ex, and secretly likes that he still needs her, if only to ask for money.

Instead of poker players that are in the original version, Olive has girlfriends over to play Trivial Pursuit.  The ensemble includes Sylvie (Lori Wier), Mickey (Chris Milton), Renee (Keri Grimsley) and Vera (Jennifer Birkholz).  Their personalities add much to the story. 

The upstairs Pigeon Sisters have been replaced by the comical Constazuela brothers, two “classy Spanish gentlemen.” The Costazuela brothers (Stuart Champeau and Make Keene) act as casual love interests for Olive and Flo, with most of their humor coming from the Spanish/English language barrier.

Olive’s easy-going outlook on life soon clashes with Florence’s highly-strung neurotic tendencies, testing their friendship to the limit. When Olive organizes a double-date with the Costazuela brothers, their differences come to a head and sparks fly.

This play has a local tie-in. Tony Shalhoub, a Green Bay native with strong connections to Door County, portrayed the original Jesus Costazuela on Broadway. He has starred in movies and on stage (Tony Award) and TV (Emmy Awards).

During this production, Rogue Theater is honoring one of its loyal patrons, Judy Porter, who died in December at age 82. In her memory, she requested that she would like to fund one year of nursing school for a University of Wisconsin-Madison nursing student. Rogue Theater would like to contribute to her memorial.  For every $15 ticket sold to “The Odd Couple, Female Version,” $5 will be donated to the School of Nursing Scholarship Fund in memory of Judy Porter. 

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