BWW Reviews: Forum Theatre's ODD COUPLE (FEMALE VERSION) Fun and Feisty
The Odd Couple (Female Version) opened at the Forum Theatre last night. The production is a fundraiser for the theatre outside of the regular season of shows, and the cast and crew donated most or all of their time and talents.
Neil Simon's original male version of the Odd Couple was written in 1965, and inspired a film, an ABC sitcom, and ultimately, The Odd Couple (Female Version) in 1985. The various incarnations have served as star vehicles for Jack Lemmon, Walter Mathau, Tony Randall, Jack Klugman, Sally Struthers, and now Wichita's own Karla Burns and Gina Austin.
I must admit, I was skeptical about the unconventional casting of Burns and Austin as the titular characters. However, they have a palpable chemistry that lent itself to the mismatched friendship of Olive and Florence. Burns is honest and easy, and Austin is charmingly pathetic. However, for someone who says "12 hours I've been crying" she looks remarkably fresh. Deb Campbell as Vera, a member of their weekly trivial pursuit-playing circle of friends, has impeccable comic timing. She has a natural command of the stage. It was a shame Vera doesn't have more stage time. Her most recent project with the Forum was the celebrated Driving Miss Daisy, which she directed. The Forum and Campbell are clearly a winning combination. The rest of the cast includes Sierra Scott as Sylvie, Elizabeth Leigh Dary as Mickey, Rebecca Barnett as Renee, Ray Wills as Monolo Costazuela and Huron Breaux as Jesus Costazuela.
The sets at the Forum are usually lavish and impressive, but the Odd Couple's was disappointing. It was closer to a Wichita bungalow than a Manhattan apartment- complete with Shockers article clippings on the bulletin board. There were distracting flashing lights throughout act one, and not just from the neon sign outside Olive's window. There were a few noticeable inconsistencies (crossing to the phone before it rang, line flubs and rubbing Ben Gay into a shirt, not skin) that could have benefitted from another rehearsal. As the production run continues, the wrinkles will iron themselves out, but it just wasn't as polished as what patrons have come to expect from the Forum Theatre. Regardless, it was a fun, witty evening of local theatre. The pace was snappy and the energy was high.
The Odd Couple runs July 10-26, Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Saturday at 2 p.m. Tickets are $23 for Thursdays and Saturday matinees and $25 for Fridays and Saturday evenings. Get tickets by calling the box office at 316-618-0444 Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Forum Theatre is located at 147 S. Hillside, Wichita, Kansas 67211. For more information, visit www.forumwichita.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org