Think back to the last time you laughed you know, really laughed, like a good shoulder-shaking, tears in the eyes, gasping for breath kind of laugh. If it's been a while - and that goes for a lot of us - Maui OnStage aims to help out with its new season-opening show at the Historic Iao Theater: "The Odd Couple" (Female Version) by renowned playwright and screenwriter Neil Simon.
"Some comedies have gentle laughter," says director Mark Collmer. "But I'm hoping and expecting this one to have some good belly laughs."
The action-filled play is about a pair of roommates thrown together by marital troubles. Florence Ungar (played by Jennifer Rose) is neat and conscientious to a fault; while Olive Madison (Camille Romero) is more messy and laid-back.
Maui OnStage photo
Camille Romero (left) and Jennifer Rose star in Maui OnStage’s “The Odd Couple” (Female Version) opening Friday at the Historic Iao Theater.
It's said that Simon got the idea for "The Odd Couple" after watching the struggles of his recently divorced brother, Danny, who moved in with theater agent Roy Gerber after Gerber's divorce. However, with five marriages under his own belt, Simon is no stranger to estrangement, so perhaps he was his own inspiration.
When the original show came out on Broadway in 1965, the quibbling of ill-suited roommates Felix Ungar and Oscar Madison led to much acclaim and several Tony Awards. Eventually, the play spun off into two successful films starring Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau, as well as two ABC sitcoms and even an animated series.
In 1985, Simon complied to high demand for a female version of "The Odd Couple," and with a few twists of the plot (like the poker game turning into Trivial Pursuit), opposites Florence and Olive were born.
"The Odd Couple" (Female Version) opens Friday night and runs through Sunday, Sept. 27. Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 3 p.m. Sundays. Tickets are $18 for adults, $16 for students and seniors, $15 for Sunday matinees; available at If the Shoe Fits in Wailuku, online at www.mauionstage.com, or by calling 242-6969.
Collmer describes the plot as "full of high jinks and some tomfoolery," even including two chase scenes. "High comedy like this is a challenge, and it takes craftsmanship to pull it off," he says. "(This version) certainly has all the high comedy of the original 'Odd Couple,' but it's more up to date, so perhaps a little more accessible to a contemporary audience."
The female version also has a bit more of a "tender heart," Collmer says. "It really is about the value of enduring, unconditional friendship These women have been friends since junior high school, and all are now into their 30s."
The female roles parallel the original characters in both names and personalities. Aside from Olive and Florence, there's Micky the cop (Beth Garrow); ditzy Vera (Tasha Bradon); girly-girl Renee (Jesse Rogers); buddy Sylvia (Mana'o Radio star Kathy Collins), who Collmer describes as the woman with "chutzpah"; and the Costazuela brothers Manolo and Jesus (Kevin Wilson and Nicholas Batres).
Although it's a show about women, that doesn't mean it should be limited to a girls'-night-out audience, Collmer says.
"This isn't 'Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants'! It's a show for the whole family, and I fully expect the men to laugh every bit as hard as the women," he says.
"If people are in the mood for a good escape and some good hearty laughs, this is just the ticket."
Over the years, we've watched Mikhail Baryshnikov on TV and film - including popular roles as a Soviet ballet dancer who defects to the U.S. (a story that parallels his own) in the 1985 movie "White Nights"; and as Carrie Bradshaw's artist boyfriend in the TV series "Sex and the City" in 2003 - among countless other roles. But Baryshnikov has professed that he is not a fan of the big screen, never wanting to become a Hollywood star, but rather, just to dance.
Maui audiences will get to see what the legendary Baryshnikov is all about when he returns to the Maui Arts & Cultural Center's Castle Theater at 7:30 tonight. He partners with acclaimed dancer Ana Laguna in "Three Solos and a Duet," performing works by foremost choreographers Mats Ek, Benjamin Millepied and Alexei Ratmansky. Tickets are $12, $35, $55 and $65. Applicable fees are added to tickets for all MACC shows, available at the MACC box office, by calling 242-7469 or online at www.mauiarts.org.
Maui's own na kumu hula sisters Napua Greig and Kahulu Maluo-Huber bring their Halau Na Lei Kaumaka O Uka (the Beloved Children of the Uplands) to the MACC's Castle Theater at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 26. The evening is called Mohala Mai 2009 "To Blossom Forth," and will include music by award-winning musicians as well as traditional and contemporary hula, oli (chant) and mele (song), all representing the beauty and natural imagery of Hawaii. Tickets are $32.
Seems like summer is barely over, but the energetic folks at Maui OnStage are already getting ready for Halloween. Each year, MOS creaks open the doors of the Historic Iao Theater for the amazing "Haunted Theater." The community is invited to pitch in and help with building, decorating, costumes, advertising, ticket-selling or just adding ideas to the creative process. Dancers are also welcome to join MOS staff choreographer and teacher Aly Cardinalli as he reprises his awe-inspiring "Thriller" piece, along with two new dances. The Haunted Theater will run 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 29, through Saturday, Oct. 31 (until 10 p.m. on Halloween). To volunteer or for more information, call 244-8680 or visit www.mauionstage.com.