Female version of ‘The Odd Couple’ hits Centre’s stage

Published 12:35 pm Monday, October 2, 2017

Centre College Drama Program
Directed by Jonathan Hunt, a Centre College senior, “The Odd Couple: Female Version” is a comedy set in 1985 that centers around two roommates with drastically different ideas of housekeeping and lifestyle. Centre’s interpretation of this play opens Wednesday and runs through Friday in Weisiger Theatre at Norton Center for the Arts.
Hunt says, “’The Odd Couple: Female Version’ is indeed similar to the story that everyone knows, but with female lead characters rather than male lead characters. It is the most popular American comedy that’s come out of the last quarter century.
“Written by Neil Simon, it’s a story about friendship. It’s a story about two women in 1985 who are complete opposites of each other—one is clean and one is messy—who find themselves living together. It’s about them accepting each other for who they truly are. At the end of the day it’s a show that has a sort of honest female friendship portrayed.”
Hunt and actors Diana Smith and Jessa DeLuca, who play Florence and Olive — the two female leads — answered a few questions about the upcoming performance.
AC:Why the female version?
Hunt:“We have women in our casting pool. When I first picked up this play I was not particularly impressed with the title and I thought that the female version of anything shouldn’t exist. However, after a few reads of the play I realized that I really enjoyed the honesty of these women. This is not a feminist play—don’t come in here expecting this to be ‘screw the patriarchy.’
“Nonetheless, I feel like this play is still empowering to women to the extent that it’s not just a play about two women trying to get a man. It’s not ‘I need love.’ What really drew me to it is the idea that it’s more realistic rather than romanticized or idealized. I was looking for a comedy, and finding a comedy that has well written female characters is hard. When you find one other problems would come up; there are great contemporary comedic female artists and they write some very raunchy stuff, which is great. I just didn’t want to do that for family weekend. I wanted to do something that the siblings could come to. Putting all of those pieces together was a juggle of what’s the most important thing for me.”
AC:How has directing this play been for you?
Hunt:“It’s a big lift to be both a student and director. I have meetings, interviews and constant focus and concentration on this play, as any director would. I also have four classes which have homework and tests and reading and all of the things that come with the classes.
“There are a lot of times when I leave rehearsal and I remember that I’m still a student. What’s nice about doing this at Centre College is that professors are incredibly generous and supportive; I’ve been able to talk to them and they understand how important this work is for me. They’ve been willing to accommodate me in various different ways. It’s a struggle, but at the end of the day this is the work that I want to do. This is educational for me. The most important work I will do at Centre has been done in the past month and a half.”
AC:Why should people come to the play?
Hunt: “It’s a very funny play. We are living in a country right now that is full of fear, worry and sadness. Sometimes we need to be reminded of friendship, hope and happiness. Sometimes we just need to laugh. I hope by doing this play we are able to show all of those things and give the Danville and Centre community the opportunity to just laugh for a little while.”
AC:What made you want to be a part of this production?
Smith:“As soon as I knew that there was a strong female comedy coming to Centre I knew that I wanted to be a part of it in some capacity.”
AC:What are you hoping to bring to the audience through your character?
Smith:“I’m hoping to make them laugh. Florence is pretty ridiculous, but there is a lot of hilarity in her ridiculous nature and I hope that the audience can see that and enjoy it. She’s very over the top. I feel like she’s over the top to the extreme but we may all know someone a little like Florence.”
AC:What do you want people to take away from the show?
Smith:“The show is ultimately about friendship and what we give and take from friendship. It’s about how it changes us, makes us better people, makes us realize things about ourselves.”
AC:What are you wanting people to get out of your performance?
DeLuca:“I think that when someone comes to see ‘The Odd Couple,’ they need to have the mentality of seeing an old-fashioned comedy to have a good time and relax. Diana is hilarious. I’m pretty funny, but Diana is great and she is just going to steal the show.”
Annabelle Cooper is a sophomore studying English and religion, and is with the Centre College Drama Program. 
“The Odd Couple: Female Version” goes up 8 p.m. Wednesday-Friday, Oct. 4-6 at Weisiger Theatre in Norton Center for the Arts. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for senior citizens and other school students and free to faculty, staff and Centre College students. They can be purchased at the box office before the show or by calling (859) 236-4692.

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