Bradley Playhouse opens 2014 season with 'The Odd Couple – Female Version'
By Denise Coffey - Staff Writer
Putnam - posted Tue., Jan. 14, 2014
Director Carol Alderson moved around Pomfret School’s Hard Auditorium watching her actresses rehearse for “The Odd Couple – Female Version.” The 1965 comedy about a slovenly sportswriter and a high-strung neatnik who share an apartment was made into a female version in 1985.
Easy-going Oscar Madison became Olivia Madison. Felix Unger turned into Florence Unger. The men’s foibles and traits carried over to the distaff version. Their poker-playing friends became Olivia and Florence’s girlfriends. And the Pigeon sisters in the original play turned into the Costazuela brothers, Manolo and Jesus.
Jen Briere, who plays Florence in the play, said that while many of the lines are verbatim, there were places they had to amp it up. “Felix is a like female character to begin with,” she said. “But I can’t just be cleaning. I have to be driving people crazy with it. I have to be a Martha Stewart on steroids.”
All of the women have to put their stamp on their characters. That female spin lends itself to a slightly different comedic slant.
Carol Bachman’s cop Mickey likes her job a little too much. “Sometimes she feels like a cop even in social situations,” she said. In one scene she offers to pull out her gun.
Keri McNiff’s Vera is a naive, newly married character who often finds herself at the end of Jolene Cardoza’s Sylvie’s barbs. Sylvie is a female version of the gruff, sarcastic Speed.
Valerie Coleman’s Renee joins the Friday night gatherings more for camaraderie than anything. “I don’t come for the game so much as the talk about sex,” she said.
And Kathy Radel’s Olivia is an easy-going, sports-crazed gal who is a push-over when it comes to her ex-husband and men in tight pants.
The rehearsal went in fits and starts while Alderson stopped the action to ask the women questions. “How long have you known each other?” she asked them. “Why do you get together every Friday night?”
The women talked about their characters as if they were real – how old they were when they got married, how often they had sex, who and what they found annoying, and why they got together every Friday night with so many other things going on in their lives.
“You all love each other,” Alderson said. “I want to see that. I want to feel that love.”
The actresses (and actors) have five weeks left to get their lines down and know their characters inside and out. The week before the show opens they will move rehearsals to the Bradley. The theater has been closed for months while the ceiling has been repaired.
“The Odd Couple – Female Version” will usher in the theater’s 2014 season.
Michael Gallo said the theater has gone through rejuvenation in the last few months. He is the president of the Board of Directors for the Theater of Northeastern Connecticut. “We haven’t just replaced plaster on the ceiling,” he said. “There were other things we decided to do while we had the scaffolding. It was the right time to do it. People will be surprised when they see the work.”
Alderson is looking forward to getting back into the theater. Working with the actual set in the actual space will let her and her crew put the finishing touches on the play.
Briere can’t wait. “There’s something so wonderful about a live performance,” she said. “There’s an intimate relationship between the audience and the actors. You just can’t get that anywhere else.”
“The Odd Couple – Female Version” opens on Feb. 22 in Putnam. For more information, go to www.thebradleyplayhouse.org.