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!
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.
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 .
Due to a double-booking in Osoyoos, the South Okanagan Amateur Players are rescheduling their spring production of Rumors. The comedy still opens in Oliver on April 15 – 17 at the Frank Venables Theatre at SOSS highschool. The Osoyoos dates are now April 22 – 24 at the OSS Minitheatre.
Anyone who purchased tickets for Osoyoos already (April 8 – 10) can do one of the following:
The plot: Four couples arrive at a New York residence to celebrate the 10th wedding anniversary of the deputy mayor of New York. They find the wife Myra missing along with the servants, and the host lying unconscious in an upstairs bedroom suffering from a superficial gunshot wound. The couples represent some of the most powerful institutions in the state: the legal, financial, and medical professions, the media, and politicians. So, how do they handle a potentially explosive, gossip-laden situation? By spreading rumors and lies, of course. Be prepared to laugh as things go from bad to farce.
After two months of rehearsals, the cast and production team are still cracking up laughing at the humour, which is a good sign that audiences can expect a very funny play. Who’s involved? Ted Osborne (Sound of Music, 2008) directs. A very capable newcomer to SOAP is assistant director and stage manager, Christine Rothwell. The ensemble cast includes several actors who’ve joined SOAP within the last two productions, Sand Mountain (2009) or Sound of Music (2008): Aimee Grice, Paul Everest, Patrick Turner, and David Badger. We welcome back Sera Lean (All in the Timing, 2003) after a too-long hiatus from SOAP. And two newcomers to the stage join the troupe: Garth Robinson and Calgary snowbird Paul Butler. Rounding out the cast are longtime SOAPers Penelope Johnson, Diane Gludovatz, and Jen Jensen.
Paul Butler, a visiting snowbird from Alberta, is taking the plunge. Not off the diving board or hurtling from a ski jump, but something almost as daring. An early retiree from the forest product industry with no previous acting experience, Butler is taking centre stage in his first theatrical production. He joins the cast of Rumors by Neil Simon, a comic farce presented by the South Okanagan Amateur Players (SOAP). The same playwright also penned the comedy classics California Suite and The Odd Couple.
“My wife and I saw all the posters around town advertising the audition, and I thought, why not?” The production runs Thursday April 8 to Saturday April 10 at the OSS Minitheatre (Osoyoos), and Thursday April 15 to Saturday April 17 at the Venables Auditorium (Oliver). The dates suited the Butlers’ holiday in the Okanagan, and so, much to the surprise and amusement of his wife, Paul auditioned and won a role.
At left: Four desperate dinner guests play “Ones and Twos” to determine who will have to impersonate their unconscious host when the police arrive. The actors (left to right) are Garth Robinson, Paul Butler, Paul Everest, and Patrick Turner. Photo: Penelope Johnson
Butler plays “Ernie”, a psychoanalyst who is one of eight dinner guests invited to the tenth anniversary of the deputy mayor of New York. When the first couple comes on the scene, they discover the hostess is missing, the servants have disappeared, and their host is lying unconscious with a bullet hole through his ear. As guests continue to arrive, the attempted cover-up becomes more complicated and rumors run wild. When the police inevitably turn up, the socialites become desperate to maintain the facade, and the evening dissolves into deception and impersonation with hilarious results.
“It ends up like a case of the patients running the asylum,” chuckles Butler, taking his cue from his role as the shrink. At first, his character keeps a professional calm, but as the tension mounts, Ernie’s composure begins to crack and he joins in the frenzied physical comedy.
Butler admits rehearsals are a “big challenge”: learning stage right from stage left, how to stand and move in such a way as to remain visible to the audience, how to memorize lines, how to listen and react naturally to other characters. It’s a lot for a new actor to absorb. But director Ted Osborne gave him kudos at a recent rehearsal. After Butler delivered a particularly emotional speech, Osborne spontaneously jumped up to applaud: “That was fantastic! You absolutely nailed it! Keep it up!”
Judging by the nods and smiles from the rest of the cast, they agree: Butler’s daring plunge into acting has been worth it.
After a brief hiatus during the fall, the South Okanagan Amateur Players are back treading the boards this spring with a production of the comedy Rumors by Neil Simon. The prolific and award-winning playwright also penned The Odd Couple and California Suite.
Rumors is set at a posh dinner party to which several of New York’s socialites have been invited. When the first couple arrives, they discover that the hostess is missing along with the household staff, and that their host, the deputy mayor of New York City, has shot himself through the earlobe. Neither host nor hostess makes an onstage appearance during the entire play. As the evening progresses and more dinner guests arrive, wild rumours begin to circulate about their hosts’ marital problems. Comic complications arise when, given everyone’s upper class status, the couples decide they need to conceal the evening’s events from law enforcement and the media. As confusion and miscommunication mount, the evening spins off into classic farce culminating in an hilariously befuddled explanation to the police.
Director Ted Osborne, last at the helm of SOAP’s production of The Sound of Music, is looking for a cast of 10 adults. Four men and four women are needed to play the dinner guests, ranging in age from 30s to early 60s. Two smaller parts are available for the police officers arriving on the scene, one middle-age man and one younger woman. No previous theatrical experience is required.
Production dates are tentatively set for April 8-10 in Osoyoos and April 15-17 in Oliver. Actors must be available for a minimum of two rehearsals a week beginning in mid-January, but times and locations will be negotiated according to cast schedules. Closer to production, rehearsals may increase, as required, to three times per week.
Auditions are on Monday January 11 at the Osoyoos Art Gallery (upstairs) on 8713 Main St., and on Tuesday January 12 at the Quail’s Nest Arts Centre, Studio Building, 34274 95th St., Oliver, just south of the Fire Hall. Both auditions run from 7:00 – 9:00 p.m. No prepared monologue is necessary. Actors will be reading from the script. Drop-in auditions are welcome, but hopeful actors are encouraged to stay for as much of one evening as possible to work through a variety of roles with other actors.