Wootton senior Allison Burket has been on the crew of every school play since her freshman year. She once helped design a theater set in three days, so she’s ready to do a complete stage overhaul in six days between the two weekends of Wootton’s “Odd Couple” performances.
“The set is something to be proud of,” Burket said. “We have to redo the whole room — repaint it and redo the furniture, because it is two decades apart.”
The transformation is necessary for Wootton’s dual performances — a male and female version of “The Odd Couple.” Wootton performs the female (1980s) version on Nov. 12 and 13, then the male version on Nov. 19 and Nov. 20.
A Tony Award-winning play, “The Odd Couple” became a screenplay in 1968 and a television show in 1970. Twenty years after writing the original script, Simon himself rewrote the play, reversing the gender of each character. The female version reflects social changes for women in the intervening 20 years.
“As a theater teacher, I’m always teaching that theater is a reflection of society,” said Stan Brodsky, the director of Wootton’s productions. While the plot lines of the two versions remain the same, there are difference in each script revealing the role of women in the 1980s, and how it evolved in 20 years after the play was first written.
JUNIOR KELLY COOK plays Vera, a ditzy friend of the female odd couple,. “It’s a play that has a really good message about friendship, and yet there’s so much humor, you’ll be crying,” Cook said.
“I think it’s a wonderful examination of human relationships, and what we’ll do for friendship,” said Brodsky. “I think that these are just as true today, 40 years after [the original play] was written.”
The male play revolves around the friendship of Oscar and Felix, who share an apartment after the end of Felix’s marriage. Oscar is a slob, while Felix is compulsive and neat. In the female version, it is Olive and Florence who are the mismatched housemates, playing Trivial Pursuit instead of poker, like their earlier male counterparts.
“The idea of doing a comedy is kind of a challenge,” Brodsky said. “Most of the shows we’ve done in the past have been more doom and gloom.”
Burket agrees that there are opportunities for the actors in “The Odd Couple” that are different from the typical school musical. Characters are more developed, she said, and the performers can display a different type of talent.
“I love seeing our actors, who are so talented, get to perform in a comedy,” said Burket. “Sometimes the dramatic aspect of theater gets lost almost [in musicals].”
A comic production means sound crew director Elyssa Gerst has a new list of priorities. “Because it’s just a play, with no music, we have to focus on the tone of the microphones and the acoustics of the auditorium,” said Gerst. “Also, the physical aspect of the comedy, that the actors don’t fall on the microphones — which has happened.”
“It’s the same story line when you have the guys doing it and the girls doing it, but you get completely different humor,” Cook said. “They’re both amazing. … Come see both.”