The Odd Couple
The Costazuela brothers – Jesus (Brian Scott Hale) and Manolo (Dennis Gallardo) – commiserate with Florence (Maria Gallardo) over her burnt chicken while Olive (Samantha Cormier) looks on in Studio Connections’ production of “The Odd Couple,” female version. courtesy of Kathleen Dreier

It’s hard to compete with legendary TV actors like Tony Randall and Jack Klugman, but the da Vinci Players do a fine job giving it a shot in their latest production, the female version of “The Odd Couple.”

After multiple seasons on the air, the Randall/Klugman teaming in the classic TV comedy is so well established (for us 40-plus folks, that is), it’s hard not to compare later versions.

Playwright Neil Simon revised his play about two mismatched roommates – one neat and one uptight – in 1985 to feature a female cast. He transformed Oscar and Felix to Olive and Florence, and replaced the poker games with Trivial Pursuit. The pairings worked on Broadway, where Sally Struthers and Rita Moreno appeared in the starring roles.

They also work well here, with Samantha Cormier as the messy Olive and Maria Gallardo as the uptight Florence.

Overall, the play is a lot of fun, with laughs sprinkled liberally throughout. The two work well together, and play off each other and the supporting cast of friends – Jacinda Swinehart Johnson, Elayna Direnfeld, Martie van der Voort and Monica Rhodes.

I would have loved to see the leads portray more extreme versions of the characters; it would have been easier to laugh at them. Both Cormier and Gallardo were too pretty and too nice, but still very funny.

The standouts were Dennis Gallardo and Brian Scott Hale as the Costazuela brothers, Manolo and Jesus, respectively. Dennis Gallardo, especially, has a real energy to him that was apparent the minute he walked through the door and into Olive and Flo’s New York apartment.

The stage is not large, but the production used the space effectively. Set designers Sam Cormier, Robert Encila (who also directed the play) and Adam Furtado got a lot of bang from their design buck. The intimate setting also works in the audience’s favor. There’s not a bad seat in the house.

The Studio Connections/de Vinci Players production of “The Odd Couple,” female version, runs June 10-12 and June 17-19 at St. Francis in the Foothills Theatre, 4625 E. River Road. Tickets are only $15-$18; they can be purchased by visiting www.brownpapertickets.com or calling 800-838-3006.

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