Towsontowne's new 'Odd Couple' does justice to Neil Simon's script


The Towsontowne Dinner Theater's production of Neil Simon's female version of "The Odd Couple" is a little rough, but all this is more than atoned for by some excellent performances and a Simon script that may be having its premiere in this area.

"The Odd Couple" first appeared in 1965 with Walter Matthau and Art Carney in the cast. Matthau and Jack Lemmon did the film version (1968), and the play underwent a sex change in 1984 when the female version appeared at the Mechanic with Rita Moreno and Sally Struthers. The show went from there to New York where Simon did more tinkering with the script.

Because of this, and because of the performances of Sheryl Ryanharrt, Jeannie Walden, Richard Byrd and Dave Guy, it all seems almost new. Yes, we have the spaghetti scene. That was in the original, but there are some gags that were not in the first version and were not in the sex-change version that played the Mechanic.

Ryanharrt is a tough and patient Olive Madison, a self-described slob who asks Florence Unger (Walden), a meticulous housekeeper, to move in with her when Florence's husband ends their marriage. Byrd and Guy are the two Spaniards who live upstairs and visit Olive and Florence in their apartment. This particular scene was the highlight of the version that played the Mechanic, and it is the highlight of the Towsontowne production.

You have to laugh. You have to laugh at most of this silliness, so the company is doing something very right.

"The Odd Couple" will continue at the Towsontowne through Aug. 25. Richard Byrd directed. He might want to tighten things a bit, but the show, even as is, is a pleasure.

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