Off-Broadway smash hit comes to local theatre

 

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Ask a woman about a personal triumph or tragedy in her life, and chances are she’ll remember the clothing she was wearing at the time. That’s the basic premise of SOAP’s next comedy, Love, Loss , and What I Wore by sisters Nora Ephron and Delia Ephron and based on the best-selling  picture-book memoir by Ilene Beckerman. The Ephron sisters are noted for their quick-witted rom com films, When Harry Met Sally, Julie and Julia, Sleepless in Seattle and You’ve Got Mail.

But the play is not about  “fashion”, far from it.  It’s  about memory and relationships, about emotions and how old emotions can be relived through items of clothing  hanging in a woman’s closet. The result is a funny,  poignant, and ultimately uplifting collection of stories, all of them true.

Jen Jensen directs a cast of five women (Linda Lobb, Christine Rothwell, Penelope Johnson, Robin Stille , and Tracey Granger) who reminisce their way through a series of monologues, dialogues, and rapid fire vignettes. Assuming a variety of characters and voices, the women recall touchstone moments in a woman’s life, told through her clothing: a childhood dress, the embarrassment of  fitting a first bra,  a prom gown and the beau who went with it, the pain and sexiness of high heeled shoes, finding the right dress to marry the one you love, why women adore black, and the love-hate relationship with a purse.  Scenes vary from serious to sexy to just plain silly.

Tying the 28 scenes together is Gingy (Linda Lobb),  a straight-talking senior who uses tongue-in-cheek humour to retell her life story through her clothes. On the way, she inspires four other women to join in with anecdotes of their own, following a roughly chronological format from childhood, through loves and losses,  to career and motherhood, and on to the golden years.

The show is especially recommended as a hilarious evening out for moms and daughters, sisters, and women’s groups.

Hint for guys: Valentine’s Day is coming up and a pair of tickets to Love, Loss, and What I Wore could be just the “ticket” for your own romance! And if she wants to drag you along instead of her girlfriend, be flattered!

While the estrogen level may be high onstage, the show promises to be both an eye-opener and a source of amusement for men. What do women really do in the department store change-room?  What is she really thinking when standing in front of the closet for minutes on end? Why do women wear boots year-round? Why is what she wears  so important to her anyway? The show reveals many of women’s secret fears and private joys, using clothing as a metaphor for memory.   Women may laugh with the characters, while  men laugh at them, but laughter is guaranteed for both genders!

Love, Loss and What I Wore will be produced on consecutive weekends in March:

March 1  & 2 at Summerland Centre Stage
March 8 & 9 at the Osoyoos Minitheatre
March 15 & 16 at the Oliver Seniors Centre 
 

Tickets go on sale Monday January 28.   Adults $18 and  Seniors(65+) /Students $15. Visit Sundance Video (Oliver), Your Dollar Store with More (Osoyoos), Dragon’s Den (Penticton) or The Sweet Tooth (Summerland) to purchase yours.

For more information, contact SOAP @ telus.net or the producer at 250-498-3597.

Got Your Tickets Yet?

Meet Olive Madison: “I love sports, I like to paint. I like photography. I don’t like to clean up. When I got married my wedding dress had CocaCola stains on it.”  Separated and man-crazy, more concerned about bringing home the bacon than frying it up in a pan, Olive is the epitome of the word SLOB.

Meet Florence Unger: ” Just you wait. I’ll turn this apartment into something out of Architectural Digest. You’ll see furniture you never knew you had. ” Separated and still missing her “short, hairless cowboy” husband, Florence channels her insecurities about singlehood into cleaning up…. after Olive.

Olive’s big mistake? Allowing Florence to move in. Florence’s big mistake? Underestimating Olive’s frustration. Your big mistake? Missing this hilarious comedy. Get your tickets today!

Laughs double up cast at Odd Couple rehearsals

Aimee Grice is wiping the tears from her eyes. “Sorry, I just can’t go on,” she splutters. “Let me … just … catch my breath.”  She’s not crying: Grice is doubled over in a fit of giggles.

Grice is in rehearsal for SOAP’s upcoming production of Neil Simon’s  The Odd Couple. In the female version of the famous comedy, the eponymous “Oscar” and “Felix” become the slobby divorcee Olive Madison (played by Grice) and her irritatingly neat roomate Florence Unger (played by Leslee Hatherly). The comedy follows two newly single ladies as they navigate the rules of sharing an apartment and returning to the dating scene.

Grice and Hatherly (at left)  are two strong actors, although relative newcomers to SOAP. This is Aimee’s fourth production, after singing in the nuns chorus in The Sound of Music (2008), then taking the lead in Sand Mountain (2009) and an ensemble part in Rumors (2010). Leslee took a small and serious role in this season’s drama, Twelve Angry Jurors, but her comic talents take centre stage in The Odd Couple.

Director Penelope Johnson is taking the cast through one of the funniest scenes in the play: Olive and Florence on a double date with their attractive Spanish neighbours, the Costazuela brothers. Aimee’s shoulders shake as she struggles to remain in character.  Waiting patiently for the rehearsal to continue are Tom Szalay (as Monolo Costazuela) and Paul Everest (as Jesus Costazuela).  Szalay and Everest have been practicing the Castilian accents and charming manners  required for their roles.

 “Monolo and I have brrrrought you frrresh flowers and frrresh candy,” says Everest, rolling his Rs. “Please to accept my deep felicitations. We hope you like them. The candy ees …  um ….no good.”

“No good?” responds Grice as Olive, trying unsuccessfully not to smile.

“Si. Very chewy,” says Tom as Manolo.

“Do you mean nougat?” says Olive.

“Ah si! Nou–gat! Not ‘no good’… nougat! So stoopid. We are steeell berry new at Engleesh.”  

Aimee splutters again. “Sorry,” she says, holding up her hand to call another halt. “It’s too funny,  plus I’m soooo tired.”  Grice is a new mother, battling sleep deprivation. Her babe-in-arms occasionally joins her at rehearsals. “That’s the deal,” explains Penelope Johnson. “Aimee can perform if I direct while dandling her baby on my knee.”  

Also in the cast are Linda Venables, Lynne Richards, Diane Gludovatz and Jen Jensen as the Trivial Pursuit playing girlfriends of Olive and Florence. In the play, the ladies add some “gal pal” humour to the storyline, give advice, and play referees to Olive and Florence’s squabbles over housekeeping and dating. The foursome also  act as surrogate moms to Grice’s baby, passing the little girl from knee to knee as they practice their lines. 

Grice and Hatherly find they are growing into their characters during the rehearsal period.  “Olive is not a stretch for me,” admits Aimee Grice, who revels in the opportunity to make a mess on stage. On the other hand, Leslee Hatherly, as the house-proud Florence, is dicovering her hidden neat freak. “My kitchen at home has never been SO CLEAN. I’m really immersing myself in this character.” 

The lead actors are enjoying their time together at rehearsal. “Olive and Florence get quite a workout on stage,” says director Johnson. “The action can get fast and furious.”  Lately they have been choreographing a couple of fight scenes (involving a vacuum cleaner, a ladle, a can of deodorizer, and a plate of linguini) and a chase scene (involving a can of pepper spray and a suitcase of lingerie).  Curiously enough, Hatherly and Grice find the hilarity and crazy antics at rehearsals an antidote to their busy lives.

The Odd Couple is slated for production on Friday April 29 and Saturday April 30 at the Osoyoos  MiniTheatre (OSS), and on Friday May 6 and Saturday May 7 at the Frank Venables Auditorium (SOSS) in Oliver.  Tickets are $15 Adults and $12 Seniors/Students.  They go on sale at the end of March, through Your Dollar Store with More (Osoyoos), and Sundance Video (Oliver). Watch for posters to indicate the start of ticket sales.  More information can be obtained at //

Men and women needed for SOAP’s Odd Couple

Oscar and Felix. The Odd Couple. Most TV buffs are familiar with the 1968 film and series about a slob and a fussbudget who get on each other’s nerves when reduced to sharing an apartment. Fewer people are aware there’s also an “Olive-and-Florence” version of the famous Neil Simon play.

The South Okanagan Amateur Players are scouting for actors of either gender to play the title duo in their spring theatrical production of The Odd Couple. Members of the public are encouraged to audition, regardless of previous stage experience.

“SOAP’s decision to produce the male or female version of the play will depend on who auditions,” says director Penelope Johnson. “Both scripts have their own appeal, with that trademark Neil Simon humour.” Johnson has directed three previous SOAP productions and last appeared onstage with SOAP in Neil Simon’s Rumors.

Oscar (or Olive) Madison keeps a slovenly apartment, relaxing with friends over beer, pretzels, and a game of poker — or in Olive’s case, a game of Trivial Pursuit with the gals. This laid-back lifestyle ends abruptly with the arrival of Felix (or Florence) Unger, newly separated, suicidal, and searching for a place to sob out the story of a marriage gone sour. Madison takes pity on Unger and offers room and board, but soon starts regretting it when Unger embarks on a series of home improvements, including Madison’s filthy habits.

Six other roles are also available in both genders. The male version requires four more men to play Oscar’s poker buddies. It also calls for two women to play the giggly Pigeon sisters, on a date gone awry with Felix and Oscar. The female version reverses the genders: four women play Olive’s girlfriends, and two men are required as the charmingly funny Spanish suitors Manolo and Jesus.

Auditions for The Odd Couple will be held on Thursday January 13 in Room 1, Sonora Centre in Osoyoos and on Friday January 14 at the Quail’s Nest Arts Centre (34274 – 95th Street) in Oliver. Drop in from 7 – 9 p.m. either evening. Not convenient? Alternative audition times can be booked.  Hopefuls will be asked to read portions of the script with other actors, and to act out some simple stage movement. Production dates are tentatively booked for April 29-30 and May 6-7, but may be adjusted to accommodate schedules. Rehearsal schedule will be developed in consultation with actors and crew, two to three times per week.

For more information, to book an alternative audition time, or to volunteer for backstage work, telephone Penelope Johnson at 250-498-0183 or email .